Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy
As Leader of the House, I am privileged to lead tributes to the late Jimmy Mulroy, a former Senator, councillor and mayor of Drogheda who sadly passed away in February of last year. I express my sincere sympathy to the family of the late Senator Mulroy - his wife Chris, children Caoimhe, Cormac and Christine, his brother and sister, grandchildren and wider family. It is a pleasure to have his family with us in the Visitors Gallery today.
Jimmy served as a Member of the House between 1987 and 1989 and was also a councillor for many years, including his period as mayor of Drogheda. He was a committed public representative who served his constituents in an exemplary and dignified manner at all times. He was very prominent in the business and sporting lives of County Louth. Jimmy's door was never closed and he always made himself available to those who needed him for political, business or sporting advice. It was a trait which gained him widespread respect and admiration, irrespective party politics. Jimmy's policy was that political opponents never became political enemies. Along with his decency and warm friendly personality, that policy was echoed in many tributes paid to him following his death last year. As a sportsman, businessman, politician and family man, Jimmy lived life to the full. He is very much missed by all who knew him.
I express my sympathies and those of the House to Chris and Jimmy's family, his friends and all his Fianna Fáil colleagues in the House and beyond. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
I extend a céad míle fáilte to the Mulroy family and, on behalf of Fianna Fáil nationally and locally, express our deepest sympathy on a sad loss. The Mulroy family sat through most of the earlier proceedings during which tributes were paid to the late Deputy Nicky McFadden. Throughout it all, there was a common theme that she was a lady and someone with no enemies. The male counterpart in another era was Jimmy Mulroy. I had the pleasure and honour of serving with Jimmy. In fact, Senator Norris and I are the only two Members currently in the House who served with Jimmy during his period in office which ran from 25 April 1987, which date I remember well, to 5 July 1989.
It is astonishing when one looks at the life once lived to find in Jimmy's case that he covered so many areas of activity. He spent 30 years in Fianna Fáil contesting local and county elections in 1985 and general elections thereafter. I am grateful to Hubert Murphy who wrote a fitting tribute in the Drogheda Independent, which I would like to record. He said that for some the enduring memory was 1989, which I remember well as we all watched what happened to our colleagues across the country in the general election that year. Mr. Murphy wrote:
The Dundalk town hall was packed to capacity as Jimmy and Dermot Ahern battled for the fourth and last seat behind Michael Bell, Brendan McGahon and Seamus Kirk. They had battled two years previously when the Dundalk man edged it. All the way through the counts it seemed Jimmy was in but cruelly Brendan McGahon's surplus gave Ahern five more than him.I acknowledge my friend and colleague Deputy Seamus Kirk who is in the Gallery. He will remember the time vividly. I was looking at the figures for that year. Jimmy actually increased his vote between 1987 and 1989. His time spent in the Seanad was very fruitful for him in a constituency context. The five-vote difference illustrates one of the most amazing things that happens in politics. I am sure the political pundits analysing the transfers at the time were probably saying Jimmy had it as there was no way McGahon would give Ahern anything when they were on opposite sides. It does not work like that, particularly when it comes to third, fourth and fifth preferences when many factors come into play. The sad reality was that all the way through the counts, Jimmy was deemed to be in but Dermot Ahern got five more votes.
Despite a recount, the result did not change. What a cruel outcome for Jimmy, having run in the 1987 election and having had the somewhat small reward of having been a Member of this House for a couple of years. I am sure he entered the 1989 election with great confidence, and rightly so. Cruelly, he found that the transfer system, the PR system, was to beat him in the end. It had nothing at all to do with him or his ability. It is just the cruel nature of the PR system. It worked against him on that occasion.
Jimmy was nominated to the Seanad at the time along with other distinguished Members. They were all distinguished Members. It is important to refer to the fact that Jimmy came in at the same time as the late Eamon de Buitléar, a nationally known figure, and Mr. George Eogan, whom some might not remember. Mr. Eogan, who still visits this House, was very much a specialist in archaeology.
Jimmy was mayor of the town in 2001 and 2002 and for a second time when the devastation of the events of September 2011 in New York rocked the world. He visited New York twice in the months thereafter, including on St. Patrick's Day, bringing with him the prayers of the Boyneside. He became chairman of Louth County Council in 2007, for the first time in his 22 years with the body. He was the first Droghedaman to hold the honour since Mr. Frank Godfrey, a great friend of all of us who are still serving, in 1995 and 1996. I am sure that the Mulroy family felt great pride on the election of Jimmy as chairman. My father served for a similar amount of time on Leitrim County Council without his ever having served as chairman previously. He would talk proudly about that period. I am sure the same was true of Jimmy and his family.
Jimmy formed his own company, M&L Manufacturing, in 1974 to provide switchgear to the construction industry. He was deeply involved in many aspects of Drogheda life. He was chairman of the board of management of Drogheda Institute of Further Education and of the VEC at one stage. He retired from his various roles in 2009. He once said that in politics and sporting life, he never made any enemies.
Most people in Drogheda and elsewhere in County Louth, in addition to the wider GAA family, will remember Jimmy most for his involvement in the GAA. As a footballer with his beloved Newtown Blues and Louth, he enjoyed exceptional success, achieving an incredible nine Louth senior football championship medals with his beloved Newfoundwell outfit. I am not sure whether Deputy Kirk ever played against him at any stage. If he did, I am sure he found Jimmy a very tough but fair opponent.
In 1963, Jimmy did something not too many Louth captains achieved, namely, lifting a cup in the winter league, the O'Byrne Cup, when the Blues made up almost half of the county side. Jimmy wore the red of the county seniors for the first time as a 19-year-old in 1959. He was an exceptionally talented young footballer. He lined out until 1971, filling slots from midfield to fullback. He got Leinster honours also, playing against Ulster in the Railway Cup final of 1964. When his footballing days ended, he went into management. The new role of team manager had been created in Louth and Jimmy was asked to take it on at the young age of just 32. He managed the team for three seasons.
My good friend and colleague Jimmy was married to Chris for 41 years. They remained devoted to each other until the end. I am sure the Mulroy family would like on the record of the House the words of a poem by Kipling recited by Jimmy's son Cormac at the funeral service:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,Once again, I express my deepest sympathy to Chris, Caoimhe, Christine and Cormac, in addition to Jimmy’s grandchildren, Evan and Tess, his brother Dermot, sister Helen and many other family members and friends. He had a wide circle of friends, not least in this House. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a ainm.
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!
I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the Mulroy family on the loss of Jimmy. As a fellow Louth person, I welcome Deputy Seamus Kirk to the House for these tributes. I did not have the good fortune to know Jimmy Mulroy personally but anybody from County Louth will have grown up knowing his name and reputation.
Senator Mooney's lovely tribute highlights the exacting world of politics and how one can be a Member one minute and not the next. Had Jimmy not entered politics, perhaps his life would have taken a different path. When one reads all the tributes, one realises that wherever Jimmy Mulroy went he was most deeply respected, not only by the people in his native Drogheda but also those in Dundalk and the rest of the county. We all know of the friendly animosity between people from Dundalk and Drogheda but everybody is unanimous in acknowledging the respect that Jimmy commanded in the county.
When I read some of the tributes, I noted that one councillor said Jimmy had always made sure political opponents never became his personal enemies. That is the sign of a true gentleman, a man who knows his own mind and does not let political life, ambition or other factors take over.
Jimmy was one of the most respected people in Drogheda. He played a leading role in business, politics and sport within the community. He made an immense contribution to Drogheda and the rest of the county, bringing his business from Dublin to provide employment to people within the Drogheda area. He dedicated his life to improving the lives of people locally and nationally.
I have heard it said that Jimmy was a true champion of the people. That is a lovely tribute to anybody. If it could be said of us all, it would be wonderful. It is the mark of a man to call him a true champion of the people.
We should remember Jimmy's sporting life with Newtown Blues. I refer to the craze for GAA in County Louth. The county might not have been so successful, but Jimmy was certainly very successful with the Newtown Blues.
I did not say that. Jimmy played for Louth from 1959 until 1971. Getting to play for one's county team at the young age of 19 is some achievement.
Jimmy was elected to Drogheda Corporation and Louth County Council in 1995. Senator Paschal Mooney pointed out Jimmy's general election battles and the very disappointing race in which he lost his seat in 1989. However, Jimmy was very fair and held no animosity towards people, be they political or sporting opponents. That is brilliant.
It is lovely to see Jimmy's family present, including his wife Chris, his sister Helen, whom I just met this morning, his brother Dermot, his daughters, Caoimhe and Christine, and his son, Cormac. It is lovely also to see the lovely Tess and her brother Evan. It is a lovely tribute to the Mulroy family that we have the opportunity today to express our sympathy. On behalf of the Labour Party and others from County Louth, I express my sympathy.
It is a sad privilege for me to pay tribute on behalf of the Independents to the late Jimmy Mulroy. I join my colleagues in extending a warm welcome to his wife, sister, children and grandchildren. I had the pleasure of speaking to them in the anteroom. I did not actually know who they were but when I realised it I went over and talked to them. The spirit of Jimmy Mulroy will still be around as long as that family exists. They have his spirit.
Jimmy was a thoroughly decent and honourable man. This is an important note to strike at a time when so many of our institutions — political, cultural and religious — are in question. We need decent people in politics.
Jimmy was a thoroughly decent man, wonderfully affable and enjoyed a joke. He loved a laugh and would have rather enjoyed banter over "our day will come" and "tiocfaidh ár Lá" which we will probably hear from Senator Ó Clochartaigh.
His family reminded me of a bit of banter between us and across the floor about the relationship between W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne and what would have happened had they married. We wondered whether their children would inherit the looks of one and the brains of the other and what combination would be appropriate. I remember the extremely funny exchange and that was the enjoyable part. Jimmy was able to show that one could enjoy a joke and life could be fun even when it was serious. There was no more serious person than him yet he contributed so wonderfully in business, sport and politics. That is a very considerable range in which to contribute to one's country.
I always thought of him as an entrepreneur because he was always bright-eyed and bushy tailed, he caught on to ideas and was always in motion. I hope that it is not inappropriate for me to say so but there is another connection between the late Senator and then Deputy, Nicky McFadden, who was also a much loved Member of the House. A parallel can be drawn between her and Jimmy because both of them were attacked by very insidious illnesses. People think that politicians are immune to the frailty of humanity but they are not. I cannot think of anything more cruel for Jimmy to suffer than Alzheimer's disease because he was always so alert, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. To think of him being confused is a sad thought but he had a wonderful family to cherish and comfort him in that situation.
We exchanged Christmas cards right up until the time of his death. He was one of the people with whom I kept in contact. It cannot be more than a couple of years ago but I am pretty old because, as Senator Mooney has said, I entered the Seanad at the same time as Jimmy. That seems like yesterday even though it is the best part of 30 years ago. However, some years ago I met him in the car park and discovered that he had not changed and was exactly the same. I am glad that is my memory of him.
Of course he was very proud to have been Mayor of Drogheda. I am sure that is one of his achievements that he really appreciated. Politics is a tough game and to lose by four or five votes is really awful. However, he picked himself up and went on with his life which is a tribute to him.
It is pleasant and gratifying to see his family here in the company of his fellow Louth man, Deputy Seamus Kirk. Jimmy will be missed by none more than his family. I am sure that they have genuine mixed emotions. There must be pride to hear his colleagues speak of him in this fashion and there must also be sadness that he has left us but that is the fate of all of us.
Go raibh míle maith agat, a Chathaorligh, agus Ach an oiread le mo chomhghleacaithe ar fad, ba mhaith liom fíor chaoin fáilte a chur roimh chlann Jimmy Mulroy anseo inniu. Is údar bróid dom é gur iarradh orm labhairt anseo inniu.
I welcome the family of Jimmy Mulroy to the House. I did not have the pleasure of knowing him as I am a younger Member of the House and am only here a couple of years. However, it is important to hear the tributes that have been paid to him as they are a testament to the man, particularly the pictures drawn by different speakers today. Tributes are important and I commend the Leader for arranging same. We must take time out of our hectic schedules and from debating important matters to pay tribute. We must give tributes their due reverence and importance and recognise the work that has been done by former Members, particularly on their passing. On behalf of the Sinn Féin group I wish to convey our sincerest comhbhrón ó chroí ar bhás Jimmy.
As I sat and listened to the tributes I was reminded that politics is a family game. The general public tend to see the public figure who is out front and centre, making speeches, attending meetings, etc., but we all know the support network that operates behind all politicians. Without family support we would be nothing. It is very important to recognise the role played by his family and the way they supported Jimmy in doing all of his public work. It is quite obvious from the testimony given today that he was a very honourable and decent man who did great work for his community and for the people of Drogheda. He was also a great man on the sports field and on the political field. His passing reminds us that it is a privilege to serve on behalf of the people whom we represent. We should never forget that and the support structures that operate behind us.
The only tiocfaidh ár lá that we need to think of today is that our day will come to all of us. Sometimes we can get very heated here during a political battle and while debating political issues. We need to remember that there is a humanity behind what we do, particularly during heated debates.
Thar mo cheann féin agus thar cheann baill Shinn Féin anseo sa Seanad agus sa Teach, ba mhaith ár gcomhbhrón ó chroí a chur in iúl dá chlann agus buíochas a ghlacadh as an deis seo labhairt faoi Jimmy. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam agus anamacha na marbh ar fad.
Ba mhaith liomsa freisin fáilte a chur roimh chlann Mulroy go dtí an Seanad inniu.
Unlike my colleagues I first met Jimmy Mulroy on the GAA football fields of Louth and some of my lasting memories will be of him on the football field. That is where I first met him. As a footballer and player myself, I must acknowledge that Jimmy Mulroy never received a red, yellow or black card or warning signs because he never had his name taken on a football field for doing anything wrong. That is true and I defy anybody to beat those statistics. Somebody said that he made his senior championship debut in 1959 at 19 years of age. I can attest to the fact that he was a member of one of the greatest club teams that this country every produced, the Newtown Blues from Drogheda. I would have a few more senior medals than two if the Blues had not been around in the 1960s and 1970s but I still have great memories.
Somebody mentioned that he won nine senior championship medals which takes some doing. It also takes some doing for a man to have nine senior championship medals and be on the best football team in his county. He made his debut for Louth as a 19-year-old, played for his county for a number of years as already stated and he also played for Leinster. I am not sure whether he captained the Leinster team but he captained the Louth county team.
He joined Louth County Council in the same year as I did in 1985. I shall refer to one of my greatest memories of him. In fairness, he told everybody I met with him the same story over the years when he would recall the incident where Brennan scored three goals on him in a league final in Seamus Kirk's home village of Knockbridge. I am glad to see Seamus seated in the Visitors Gallery. He is another gentleman in politics, as was the late Jimmy Mulroy. If Jimmy mentioned the incident to me on one occasion he said it 1,000 times. Somebody said that he never had an enemy and I can attest to that fact. He played the game within the rules and was also astute in his reading of a game. He was an exemplary sportsman. I would love to see young men and women emulate his legacy on the football fields of this country.
We joined the council together in 1985.
I was only 16 years of age then. Jimmy was a few years older than me. We will forget about that.
He waited 22 years to chair Louth County Council. I waited 20 years to become chairman. I remember vividly the 1989 election and Jimmy being beaten by five votes. One family did not turn out but that is what it was. I think there was a recount as well. I would not like it to go on the record but I feel that Brendan McGahan wished it went the other way on that occasion, as did I, quite honestly.
He was a gentleman and a true Drogheda man. He made a significant contribution to the business world of county Louth. There were not many businesses which were so successful. In his latter years, for a man who was so agile and fit, it was sad to see him suffer. He was well looked after and I must congratulate his family, including his brother and sister, on how well he was looked after. I have great memories of him. I did not serve in the Seanad with him but I have heard of his contribution to the Seanad. I extend my sympathies to Chris, Caoimhe, Cormac, Christine, his sister Helen, his brother Dermot and all his immediate friends and colleagues in Fianna Fáil. I mean it. He was popular all over the House and based on my experience of him in Louth County Council, he made a significant contribution. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
Ba mhaith liomsa freisin mo chomhbhrón a chur in iúl do chlann an iar Sheanadóir, Jimmy Mulroy. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil muid go léir tagtha le chéile inniu chun cuimhneamh a dhéanamh ar an obair a rinne sé sa Seanad agus le linn a shaol. I welcome the family and pay tribute to Jimmy Mulroy both for his work in the Seanad and indeed for his entire life. Senator Mooney who served with Jimmy highlighted a number of the nominees who were appointed to the Seanad with Jimmy. I think Senator Mooney probably agrees with me that he vastly underplayed that. The Taoiseach's nominees in 1987 were one of the most distinguished group of politicians ever appointed to this Seanad. I will list them all. There was a minority of party appointees, nearly all of whom were businesspeople, which shows the way Mr. Haughey was thinking at the time. Seamus Cullimore from Wexford was a Fianna Fáil Senator and a businessman. Senator Mooney mentioned an Sheanadóir Éamon de Buitléar and Professor George Eogan who is one of the most famous archaeologists in the world. The playwright Brian Friel was appointed to the Seanad at that time. Tom McEllistrim from Fianna Fáil and the racing figure John Magnier were appointed as well. Another appointee was the hotelier Vivian O'Callaghan from Bantry. Dr. John O'Connell, who died recently, was appointed that year and became Minister for Health. Nicholas O'Connor was a businessman from the Gaeltacht with Irish language connections. Another appointee was John Robb who was one of the first people from a Protestant or Unionist background to sit in this House and emphasise the cross-Border role.
An exceptional group of people was appointed to the Seanad in 1987 by Mr. Haughey. When one looks at it like that, it was a tremendous honour for Jimmy to be included in that because there was a minority of political appointments and the political appointments were, by and large, businesspeople - employers and entrepreneurs. I suppose that was the mood at the time. When Fianna Fáil came into power in 1987, the country was obviously facing a huge crisis and the objective was to reduce the debt and to get people back to work. It is like what is happening today. As a ten-year-old at the time, I remember very vividly the economic difficulties faced by businesspeople. The cultural side that Mr. Haughey was very keen on and the business and the practical side are reflected in those Seanad nominations. It was a huge honour for Jimmy to have been among that special group of 11 people who were appointed to the Seanad at the time.
I also express the sympathy of my father and family. It was done before at the time of Jimmy's passing. My father served on Drogheda Corporation with Jimmy for 15 years and he was a very good colleague. He was always talking about investment for Drogheda and bringing jobs to the town. I remember as a ten or 12-year-old hearing the news on Boyneside Radio or LMFM. I vividly remember Jimmy talking about natural gas for Drogheda and bringing factories or jobs to Drogheda. They were just two of the things that were very important at the time. He was a great Gaelic footballer and is remembered locally for that. Senator Brennan very fairly and eloquently set out Jimmy's record on that.
I will conclude by expressing my sympathies and thanking the family for being here and Deputy Kirk and the Seanad leadership for organising this. I express my sympathies to Chris, Helen, Caoimhe, Christine and Cormac and the lovely grandchildren. It is great to be here and it is wonderful that we remember this and that this is on the record of the Seanad. That may be important for the family so that in the time to come, they can look back on this debate as well as all of Jimmy's contributions which remain on the record of the Seanad.
Tá bród orm inniu cúpla focal a rá faoi Jimmy Mulroy. Laoch mór é ar son an chontae ab ea é, fear stuama agus ionraic agus bhí an-ghrá aige dá chontae agus dá thír. Rinne sé a fhíor dhícheall i gcónaí ar son mhuintir Droichead Átha, muintir Chontae Lú agus muintir na hÉireann. Jimmy was an amazing man who was full of integrity and goodwill towards others. He was a man who could work with all politicians from all parties. He never said a cross word to anybody but wanted the best for his town, county and country.
He told me one day while we were having a chat over coffee that he was so sorry for Cooley Kickhams because the Blues were beating them every time that he let Senator Brennan score three goals and a point one day. Was he not a very decent man to do that? He was a businessman and had a business ethic and culture. Everything had to be judged in terms of its benefit to the community or county. I recall he when he was in Louth County Council. He was a very successful chairman of the council and I recall him week after week talking about a road called the Northern Cross route. No meeting went past without him talking about this road from the M1 to the port of Drogheda. If it is ever completed, I hope the people of Drogheda and county Louth have the wisdom and decency to name that road after Jimmy Mulroy because it will be because of him that it is on the agenda. The best memory I have of Jimmy Mulroy is when we both went to New York in 2008 for St. Patrick's Day and marched up Fifth Avenue. That was a fantastic occasion. Chris was with us. What I remember most is that Chris would go out shopping every day.
Myself and Jimmy would sit having a cup of coffee and we used to have a bet with each other about how many bags Chris would bring back with her. He was absolutely devoted to her, 100 per cent. I am sure his loss is almost unbearable in that regard. To Chris and to her beautiful family - I met Caoimhe at the Louth people of the year award when she accompanied her dad - I say that they are his legacy and I offer them my deepest sympathy and my utmost respect.
I wish to join in the wonderful tributes to Senator Jimmy Mulroy made by the Leader of the House and the party representatives. It is a well-deserved tribute to a wonderful public representative and a Member of this House. I extend my sympathies to Chris, his beloved wife of 41 years, to his son, Cormac, daughters Caoimhe and Christine, son-in-law, John Comiskey, grandchildren, Evan and Tess, his sister, Helen and to his very good friend, former Minister and former Ceann Comhairle, Deputy Seamus Kirk, who worked with Jimmy over the years.
I got to know Jimmy when I was in the Department of Health in 1987 when he was a Senator. I knew of his concerns for hospital issues in County Louth, which were to the forefront of his work. He was appointed to the House by the late Charles J. Haughey who had great hopes for him as a Member of this House and as a possible future Minister. He certainly had the ability to be a Member of the Dáil and a Minister. I knew of his business involvement and the fact that he was producing a tremendous product. He employed people and was concerned with job creation in the constituency and in County Louth. His family can be very proud of him as a former mayor of Drogheda and chairman of Louth County Council. He achieved a lot in those roles. I always found him to be the most gentlemanly of men. His contributions in the House were always significant. His record of attendance was excellent and he took very seriously his membership of this House. He took his job seriously, whether that was in his role as a businessman, a mayor or a husband, father and grandfather. We are very privileged to have known him and I offer his family our deepest sympathy on their loss through his early death. God bless him and may he rest in peace.
I wish to be associated with the tributes to the late Jimmy Mulroy. I welcome his wife, Chris, and his family to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery, in the company of Deputy Seamus Kirk and the Minister of State, Deputy Fergus O'Dowd, who is a former Member of this House.
I knew Jimmy Mulroy for many years from when he was elected to the county council and to the town council in 1985. While I never served in the House with him we met on numerous occasions during Seanad elections and in Leinster House. He struck me as a man who carried his responsibilities with the greatest of ease. He was never in bad form. He never carried a chip on his shoulder. He was a model in that sense. So many people carry chips on their shoulders or talk about others behind their backs but Jimmy Mulroy was none of that.
He had very satisfying careers as a politician and as a footballer and manager. He was a town councillor and a county councillor. He was a Senator. He ran for the Dáil and was just short of the post on both occasions and was very unlucky not to have been elected to Dáil Éireann. He was mayor of Drogheda and he was chairman of Louth County Council. Those are great honours to be bestowed on anyone - any one of which is a great honour - but he achieved all of those. He was a club footballer, winning nine county championships which is an extraordinary feat. It would be difficult to find many people in the country who have won nine county championship medals. He played county and club football for many years. He was a successful club and county football manager. He carried all those responsibilities with great ease and in my estimation he was a model man. He never looked his age - he looked about 50 even though he was in his 60s. That is a sign of how he carried his responsibilities. It was a great honour to know Jimmy Mulroy and he is a great loss to his wife, Chris, and to his family and also to Fianna Fáil and to County Louth. I wish to be associated with the very fine tributes paid by Members.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.