Seanad debates

Thursday, 18 December 2014

11:15 am

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Mr. Andy Fitzgerald of the staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas is to retire today. I wish him a happy and healthy retirement. Andy started his career in Teagasc and moved to the Office of Public Works, OPW, in 1977. He was transferred to the Houses of the Oireachtas in 1986 and served as a houseman to the Oireachtas under the OPW. He was promoted to usher in 2002 and has served as a dedicated member of the team in a professional manner. No matter what needed to be done, one just had to ask Andy, and he got it done with a smile. He was always most helpful. I wish him a long retirement and I wish his wife Linda and family every happiness.

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
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On behalf of the House, I join the Cathaoirleach in complimenting Andy and wishing him a very happy retirement. As the Cathaoirleach said, Andy has given 27 years of service to the Houses of the Oireachtas. Ushers such as Andy cater for such a wide range of needs that it is impossible to know just how much they do for the Members of the Houses. They are obliging and discreet and always put the needs and business of the Houses first. I wish Andy a very happy retirement and wish well his wife and family. I hope we see him again in the Houses regularly.

Photo of Paschal MooneyPaschal Mooney (Fianna Fail)
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On behalf of the Fianna Fáil group in the House, I endorse the comments of the Leader in wishing Andy Fitzgerald and his family every happiness on his retirement. None of us likes change and whenever there are occasions such as this, they probably make us all aware of the transient nature of our own careers in here in that nothing lasts forever. It seems like yesterday when Andy was appointed an usher. On behalf of the Fianna Fáil group, I thank him for his kindness, courtesy and assistance to us all over the period of his long and distinguished service. I wish him well in his retirement and wish him good health and happiness.

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Independent)
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On behalf of the Labour group, I join the others in wishing Andy Fitzgerald well on his retirement and complimenting him on his long service. I echo the words of colleagues on the important work the ushers do in this House and their unfailing courtesy, good humour and calmness under pressure. These traits are a lesson to all of us in what can often be a very fractious working environment. I wish Mr. Andy Fitzgerald the very best on his retirement and thank him for all his hard work in the House over 27 years. I hope we will see him back in the House again from time to time.

Photo of Mary Ann O'BrienMary Ann O'Brien (Independent)
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On behalf of all the Independents, Andy, I can state the best has yet to come. Twenty-seven years have gone by and Andy has given his utmost. He has worked diligently and, as Senator Bacik said, so much could be learned just by observing him, his calmness and kindness to us all. As I stated, the best has yet to come. Every good wish from us all.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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On behalf of the original and real Independents, I wish Andy very well. It is sad to see a familiar face withdrawing from us. He has been a very good friend to this House and to the Oireachtas generally over 27 years. The time goes like a wink; it is just amazing. I said to somebody yesterday that 1982 was yesterday. If 1982 was yesterday, I will be 106 tomorrow. Andy should watch his time very carefully because it goes in the blink of an eye. However, he will not be entirely lost to us because there is a very active and socially engaged group of former and retired members of the staff of the Houses. They meet regularly and have lunches and outings. It is a real pleasure to see people we remember from the old days. I have got to the point in life where I believe nothing is quite the same as it was. The retirement of Andy is just another confirmation of this sad fact. I am an optimist, however, and believe we will have a young, vital and engaging person to take up the role played by Andy in this House.

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
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Ba mhaith liom, thar ceann ionadaí Shinn Féin, gach dea-ghuí a ghuí ar Andy. We actually have a serious issue that we might need the Leader to clarify because, to me, Andy looks far too youthful to be retiring at this stage. As a newer Member of the House, I must say it has been always a breath of fresh air to come in and meet Andy, who has always shared a smile and a bit of a laugh. He always pointed one in the right direction.

It might be fitting to thank all the staff at the Houses because they are the unsung heroes. Much of the media attention, in particular, seems to be focused on the Members but the staff here are absolutely exemplary and have been fantastic all through the year. I refer to all the ushers, the administrative staff, the staff here in the Seanad, the staff in the cafeteria, the cleaning staff and everybody else involved throughout the Houses. I congratulate Andy and wish him all the best for the future. I thank all the other staff who do so much great work during the year. Go raibh míle maith agaibh ar fad.

Sitting suspended at 11.40 a.m. and resumed at 12 noon.