Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

 

12:30 pm

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I welcome Kathleen Carty and all the members of the Carty and Regan families to the House.

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

As Leader of the House and on behalf of my Fine Gael colleagues, I am privileged to lead the tributes to the late Senator John Carty, who sadly passed away after a short illness this time last year almost to the day, on 30 January. I would like to express my sincere sympathy and that of the House to John's family - to his wife Kathleen, his sons, daughters, grandchildren and wider family - many of whom are here today. I welcome each and every one of them to the Chamber.

John was a Member of the 23rd Seanad, from 2007 to 2011. Along with some other Members here today, I was fortunate to serve with him during those years. He was also a well-respected member of the lower House representing the people of Mayo from 2002 to 2007. There were many heart-felt tributes paid to John on his passing last year and it is only right that we also do so here in the Seanad. In many of those tributes, John was described as one of nature's gentlemen, and I could not argue with those words. He was a very honourable man and I know he was exceptionally proud to be elected by the people of Mayo and, indeed, to be elected to this House.

John took his role as an elected representative in both the Dáil and the Seanad very seriously and worked tirelessly for his constituents at all times. Having worked as an agricultural officer for many years before entering politics, it was no surprise that he had a particular commitment to the agricultural and business communities in his work as a Deputy and a Senator.

I would like to thank Kathleen and the Carty family for making the journey from Knock and indeed many other places to join us here this afternoon. Personally, I am very proud to say I was a friend of John Carty. Politics never entered into it between us, and when John came to Dublin after 2011, he would always give me a call and let me know he was on his way. We would have a glass of lemonade or maybe something stronger, and discuss the things that had happened, catch up on all the news and reminisce about times past.

John was a great friend to many of us in this House. At his funeral, Ciara quoted Shakespeare in her tribute to her dad, "Good-night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to they rest". I have no doubt that John is looking down on us today, on his family and friends. I would like again to convey my sincere sympathies to Kathleen and all the family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is an honour for me to say some words of appreciation for John on behalf of the Fianna Fáil group. I wish we were not in the position to have to do this. I welcome Kathleen and the family here, and also my colleagues, Deputies Éamon Ó Cuív and Dara Calleary and former Senator Rory Kiely. It is a sad day for us, but is important that we mark John and his contribution to both Houses of the Oireachtas. He served in the Dáil as a Deputy for Mayo and here in the Seanad.

From my own perspective, like Deputy Calleary I was first elected in 2007. There are a few people in the House across parties who are extremely welcoming to new Members coming in, and John Carty was one of those people. He felt a sense of pride in the Oireachtas and he certainly guided me on my way from 2007 on. He was a very easy man to get to know and was very welcoming. He had a very dry sense of humour as well, to which I will return in a few moments.

Senator Cummins has mentioned that anyone who described John would always describe him as a gentleman. The phrase is often misused, but John really was that. Everyone had only good words to say about John Carty, regardless of what party they were in. We went through some difficult times in the first Dáil from 2007 onwards, there is no question about it. As a Senator, John had the experience and advice for some of the newer Members who were seeing the world fall around them. He was a very steady hand and was always very thoughtful about things.

I had the pleasure of meeting him in Knock along with Deputy Calleary after the last general election in 2011. We went on the Seanad tour and were shown around places in Mayo that I had not only never seen but, as a Dub, had never even heard of. I had a nice break with John when Deputy Calleary let me have an hour or two away from canvassing. We met him in Knock and went to the home pub and I enjoyed a pint with him there. He gave a great welcome, he was that type of man, and he gave of his time then to someone like myself who needed his support and advice to stay involved in politics. I have the honour of serving in the Seanad now, a place where John served himself.

Above all things, John was a proud Mayo man, very proud indeed. That always came across. In my personal experience of him, he was a friend first and foremost, and a colleague second. Although he was a very proud Fianna Fáil man, he never let party politics get in the way of friendship with people from other parties. We sorely miss him here in Leinster House. When we used to go for a cup of tea down below, we would see John at the end of the counter having a cup of tea, holding court and giving advice. That is something I certainly miss here.

He was a treasured friend and someone we will never forget. His relatives can be very proud of their husband, father and brother. He made a real contribution to the Dáil and the Seanad on behalf of the people of County Mayo. In a time of great cynicism about politics and the structures of the State, I advise those who hold these attitudes to consider the example of John Carty, a decent and honourable man who was in politics for the right reasons, namely, to represent the people of County Mayo, do his best for the people of Ireland and give of his time. I thank his family for lending him to us for that period. I will not forget the experiences that he shared with me and my colleagues. As leader of Fianna Fáil in the Seanad, I can attest that my colleagues and I miss him greatly. It is an honour to pay tribute to him.

12:40 pm

Photo of Lorraine HigginsLorraine Higgins (Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I join others in expressing sincere sympathy to the family and friends of the late John Carty who packed so much into life in his 63 years. He was widely admired and respected by his colleagues and constituents. I hope these tributes will give immense pride to his wife, Kathleen; his eight children and extended family who are gathered here in what he achieved in his life, as well as offering a small degree of comfort as they try to deal with his loss. I know more about him than some of the new Senators, even though I only met him shortly after my appointment to the House. The reason I know a lot about him is I was a school friend of his son, James.
To say the 1997 general election was interesting on many levels is an understatement. John started his career in the then Department of Agriculture, which eventually brought him back to settle in County Mayo. He was very proud of the county and farming was his love, with history and family research. While he accomplished a lot in that regard, we must acknowledge that there were many highlights in his career, not least of which was his triumph in the Mayo County Council elections in 1999, when he topped the poll. He went on to contest the 2002 general election and eventually served in the Seanad.
John's legacy to the west must be acknowledged. He championed Knock Airport because he had a vision for what it could become. In one newspaper interview he described the airport as the jewel in the crown of County Mayo. The airport was granted €27 million in development funding in 2007 and he played no small part in having that money delivered. It is difficult to quantify what this investment meant for the people of County Mayo and the west more broadly. That Knock Airport remains a vital hub for business and recreational travellers is due to the tireless work he and his colleagues in County Mayo. His family should be very proud of what he achieved. The west and the people of County Mayo were incredibly lucky to have been represented in the Houses of the Oireachtas by a man of his calibre.
Like my colleague, Senator Maurice Cummins, I wish to finish with the following quote from the eulogy given by John's daughter at his funeral:

Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
May he rest in peace.

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I join my colleagues in paying tribute to my late friend John Carty. In case I forget, I apologise on behalf of the Leas-Chathaoirleach who cannot be here because he is representing the Cathaoirleach abroad and on behalf of Senator Terry Leyden who is at the European Parliament attending a meeting of a sub-committee of the Council of Europe.

I welcome John's wife, Kathleen; his children, Lisa, Ciara, James, Cathal, John Henry, Eamon, Caoimhín and Iarla; his brother, Michael; and his sisters, Anne and Joan. I also acknowledge the presence of the former Cathaoirleach Rory Kiely, Deputies Dara Calleary and Eamon Ó Cuív and former Deputies Eamon Scanlon, John Ellis and Johnny Brady, with other members of John's close family and friends. This is not something we want to be doing, but it is something that John did on many occasions in the four years he served as a Member of this House. One former colleague, in particular, the late Kieran Phelan, summed John up very well when he called him a dapper little man.

John was very close to each and every one of us, including Members from other parties and none as well as his own. As Senator Darragh O'Brien noted, he used to hold court after the Order of Business and on many other occasions. During such sessions one could be reprimanded or praised but never be put down. John would always have advice for those who needed it. He would set us up if we needed to be but only in a light-hearted way. He had another great quality in that he could tell jokes about himself. I could repeat some of his jokes in this House, but there are others I should not tell. I recall one joke, in particular, that I will not rehearse. It pertained to an occasion on which he was in his local post office after the birth of his eighth child. I will tell the joke to those in his family who do not know it privately afterwards.

John worked as an agricultural inspector in Killeshandra, County Cavan, in the mid-1970s. He was highly regarded and made many great friends in the area. He told Deputy Brendan Smith and me many great stories about the local characters. His last visit to Cavan was to attend the wake of one of these great characters, Jim Hayes from Killeshandra, just a couple of months before he fell ill himself.

John was elected to Mayo County Council in 1999 and was previously closely involved with former Deputy and councillor P. J. Morley. He often said he never expected to have that opportunity and was very proud that, in a relatively short space of time, he went from working in the then Department of Agriculture, in which he was highly regarded, to becoming a member of Mayo County Council, a Deputy and a Senator, which very few people involved in politics achieve in a lifetime. His final contribution in the Seanad was on 20 April 2011 when he asked the Leader to intervene with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government on a proposal made by Mayo County Council to make 150 staff members redundant. This contribution was made days before he ceased to be a Member of the Seanad. That reveals the dedication and commitment he brought to his role as a public representative for his native County Mayo and the most vulnerable people right up to the end.

As Senator Lorraine Higgins noted, John was very proud of the establishment and expansion of Knock Airport. He was single-handedly responsible for delivering €27 million for the airport. He was also a great historian and able to tell me things about my own county that I should have known myself, particularly about the west Cavan area. He was an honourable and decent man.

Can I just say this? Kathleen, he idealised you. He loved each and every one of you, his children. I know you used to come to the House periodically. He said you were in to rob him, although I am unsure what you were doing. At some point every one of you got to visit him in the House. He was very proud of each and every one of you.

We were very proud of him and we will miss him. May he rest in peace.

12:50 pm

Photo of Catherine NooneCatherine Noone (Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I welcome Kathleen and her eight sons and daughters as well as John Carty's extended family. I am delighted to join in the tributes. Senator Cummins has already spoken on behalf of the Fine Gael party, but I rise as a Mayo girl and as someone who is happy to say that I knew John Carty.

I concur with the comments of Senator O'Brien. He was very kind and encouraging to me as a new Member and he took an interest in me despite the politics. I suppose Mayo folk stick together at the end of the day. Although I do not share the politics, I share a great friendship with his nephews, Henry and Paul, as well as Aisling and his sister, Anne. I know they very much looked up to John and miss him, as does his entire family. I offer my sympathies again and I welcome all the visitors to the House today.

Photo of Paschal MooneyPaschal Mooney (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Like my colleagues on all sides of the House I deem it a great honour to have this opportunity to say a few words in tribute to the late former Deputy, Senator and Councillor, John Carty. I wish to convey our deepest sympathy to Kathleen, to his brother, Michael, whom many of us knew as a councillor and personally, and to all the extended family and the Regan family.
I remember shortly after John came to the Dáil in 2002 we were chatting in company. He said that he knew my father. My immediate reaction was to assume that he would have known him through the An Tóstal festival or perhaps as a Member of this House or as a councillor. Actually, it was because John Carty had spent time in my home-town of Drumshambo as an agricultural officer and adviser. I knew the House where he had lived - it is still there - on the Carrick road, where we lived too. I was astonished because it was something that had never occurred to me. Anyway, it brought home to me the breath of knowledge that John held about the west of Ireland and various other parts of Ireland. As Senator Wilson said, he was also in west Cavan and various other places.
I have another memory from his period as a Dáil Deputy. It was at the time of the 2007 election. He lost the election. I was in his company when he was talking to someone about the various things that he had been involved in - we have heard about some of them today. I remember thinking at the time how cruel politics can be, because the man was clearly passionate about his home county and his constituency. He had gone about doing what he believed he should do, like all people who are elected. I remember thinking that perhaps there is some sort of unspoken bond between the elected person and the electorate, whereby the quid pro quois that if the elected person works hard in the best interests of his people then he should get their vote. Anyway, that did not happen in 2007. There is probably an analysis of why it did not happen, but I remember that moment. I am not suggesting he was bitter about it; he was more disappointed than anything else.
Then he came to the Seanad. Interestingly, not long after that conversation, which took place at the front of the House, I lost my Seanad seat and John came to the Seanad. We met up a couple of times when I called in. He was always the same friendly jolly approachable John.
When I came back to the House in the last year of the Fianna Fáil Green Party Administration I discovered that there was a group within the Seanad who came from the west of Ireland and the midlands and who were very close. This has already been referred to briefly by Senator Wilson but I wish to acknowledge it again because my constituency colleague, John Ellis, who is in the House today, was part of the group. He was particularly close to John. The group also included Eamonn Scanlon, my constituency colleague, and of course the redoubtable Johnny Brady. I am not suggesting they made up some sort of Mafia or anything of that nature, but they were a close group. If I sat among them, I would learn more than I could ever learn by taking a course in university on politics or the west of Ireland. These were the sort of people that John was among and he was one of them.
I remember whenever I came to the House while I was not a Member he always had - Senators Wilson, O'Brien and Cummins have referred to this already - a great approachability, kindness and human touch. All of these factors made him an extraordinary human being. Again, I wish to say how proud I am to be part of this tribute to an outstanding public representative, family man and all-round decent human being. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Photo of Labhrás Ó MurchúLabhrás Ó Murchú (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Tá an-áthas orm go bhfuil an seans agam labhairt anseo inniu. Nuair a chuaigh John Carty ar shlí na fírinne, d'fhág sé folúntas ina dhiaidh nach líonfar riamh. Ba dhuine macánta, dílis agus díograiseach é a sheas an fód i gcónaí ar son a phrionsabal agus ar son a mhuintir freisin.

I am very pleased that John's family are with us today, because a public representative cannot give service in public life without his family. You, his family, have shared the ups and the downs of political life with him. Without that support John could not have achieved what he did achieve. For that reason it is great to have the opportunity to express some words of appreciation to a fine person and public representative.

It is often said that we wait too long in Ireland to praise someone or that we wait until they are gone to heaven. That is not true in the case of John Carty, because I heard words of praise for John over and over again in small groups and big groups. One reason for that is because I do not ever remember him uttering a word about other people that was not nice. That is something very important indeed.

As chairman of the Irish Family History Foundation I had a close association with John. Many times we discussed issues of genealogy and tracing roots. John knew that communities are not built on shifting sands and that it was important for people to be conscious of the legacies we have received from previous generations. He was very passionate and committed in this regard. He had a great investigative mind for finding those little gems of information which often get lost if people do not go to the trouble of finding them.

Everyone in public life, whether at council level or national level, knows that there is a contrived and rather unfair caricature, negative, in many ways, put out about people working in public life. I regard John as an antidote to that type of picture and it is evident if we reflect on the service which he gave and the sacrifices he made as well as some of the disappointments he endured in public life.

Certainly, he was a faithful son and a custodian of rural Ireland. He was mindful of the tradition and the sustenance which the land gives us. That is very important. This is not often spoken about, but it used to be spoken about in rural Ireland in the past when people sat around the fireside before the intrusion of television. In those times people were well aware of where they stood as regards the environment. John knew where he stood as regards the environment. We did not require legislation to ensure that, as custodians of that environment, we would do what we should do.

Many of them were way ahead of the posse, of whom he was one. It is a pity that we did not listen a little more closely when such people were advocates of good sense and personal responsibility. We are always careful not to use clichés or be patronising about an important person and I will not do so. However, John Carty epitomised many of the good qualities of the Irish character. He was very sincere in his beliefs. In public life there is a terrible temptation to go down the road of posturing and jockeying for position. As people do so, the edges of their sincerity can easily be chipped away, but this did not happen to John Carty.

John Carty epitomised "old decency". People of a certain age will understand the term which means courtesy and respect for others. In Ireland the edges of old decency are beginning to disappear. When we had such decency in our dealings with our neighbours and in our jobs and work as public representatives, we did not go too far wrong. The legacy John Carty has left to his family, friends, colleagues and community and the country is real and much more important than any stone monument or plaque on a wall. This legacy grows again and again. We can look back on his life with a great sense of inspiration, motivation and of how lucky we were to have known him, irrespective of politics, as a friend and colleague. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

1:00 pm

Photo of Ned O'SullivanNed O'Sullivan (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

While in one way, this is a very sad occasion, in another it is a very proud occasion for Kathleen, her fine family of boys and girls and John's brother, Michael, whom I got to know well through him. I welcome them to the House and extend a warm welcome to John's former colleagues behind me from the west and, in the Visitors Gallery, Deputies Éamon Ó Cuív and Dara Calleary, and my old friend and neighbour and former Cathaoirleach of the House Rory Kiely who was a very good friend of John.

My first term in the Seanad coincided with John's term and we sat close together on the Government side. I was a rookie and he was a very experienced man. I quickly learned that he was a man of very high intellect. Although he was deeply intelligent, he did not show it in a flamboyant way. His advice was always correct, although it was never presumptuous. One had taken his advice before one had realised he had even tendered it and it was always useful. I relied on him greatly in my early years here. He was always wonderful company. My memory of him will always be the twinkle in his eye because he always saw the humour in everything. It was wonderful to be in company with him and he had wonderful stories to tell. A particular part of the world is lonesome for him, as Kathleen and his family will know. There is a little town, Emmetsburg in Iowa, where John went on a number of occasions to represent the parliamentary friendship groups here. While I was also fortunate enough to visit it, John was so popular that he was called back on at least one more occasion. Last July some of them visited the House and the only other destination they had in mind was Knock to see John's homestead.

I am from a long line of drapers and always thought John was exceptionally well dressed. The Whip described him as “dapper” and so he was. I used to tell him that Kathleen had turned him out very well; he would always return the compliment and we could compare notes. It came to a funny conclusion one very warm summer's day when I had the temerity to come into the House wearing an all-white suit. He took me aside and told me that a man from County Mayo had used to come around here wearing a suit like that and that if he ever saw it on me again, we would be finished. That was his joke. That is the John I remember. As a Member of the Seanad and a party man, I am proud. He was a tremendously loyal Fianna Fáil Party man and gave us some of his best counsel and advice at party meetings where there was no publicity, praise and thanks. One got the truth from him and his wisdom and judgment. While nobody is always accurate, if John Carty was moving in a particular direction, 99.9% of the time I would go the same way. Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé.

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Much has already been said. Senator Diarmuid Wilson has captured what most of us feel and think. I first got to know John Carty outside politics, when neither of us was a councillor, Senator or anything else. I was involved in the beef export business and most of the product we exported came from a plant in Baltinglass, County Wicklow. Once or twice a year, John and Paddy O’Hara used to travel from County Mayo to relieve some of the agricultural officers normally based there. We developed a good friendship and I used to enjoy his visits very much. Outside the political sphere he was always a saint of reason. The beef export business, meat factories and production facilities can often be full of pressure and highly charged environments. I was young then and as somebody who was there to regulate, oversee and ensure things were done correctly, he was always a source of calm, support and knowledge. That was the first introduction I had to him.

Later, in 2002, John was elected to the Dáil and I, with then Senator Eamon Scanlon, Senator Diarmuid Wilson and so many others, to the Seanad. Later John joined us in the Seanad. It is almost impossible to be universally popular in politics. No matter how any of us might try, hope or wish, it is always a step too far. It is something one either has or has not. I do not know of anybody else who had that ability except for John. It did not matter how robust the debate, how severe the criticism or how damning one's opponent was in the cut and thrust of politics, he could disarm his opponent or, if he was dishing it out, the person on the receiving end was most accepting and realised there was merit in whatever he had to say. While I would not have said John talked too much, when he had something to say, it mattered. He understood people, their value and what it meant. This is the essence of politics and why he knew and contributed more than most.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú mentioned that John had been a custodian of rural Ireland, which is true. Given that he came from an agricultural regulatory background and rural and regional Ireland, John knew more than many about it and ensured it was kept on the agenda.

As Senator Wilson said, his last contribution was on trying to save the 150 jobs in Mayo County Council. Whatever rural pursuit or initiative, John Carty always championed that cause. Many Ministers in difficult and better days had the benefit of John's expertise, knowledge and counsel at parliamentary party meetings or privately over a cup of coffee or a drink. They were lucky to have that and they used it in designing legislation or influencing a decision. The credit has never been mentioned but it ought to be. The contribution was unwritten and unsaid but should never be forgotten.

I have been a Member since 2002 and at no time do I remember as many people queueing to speak or so many people in both galleries. It is a small but important testament to the great man John was and is and how proud his family rightly are of his contribution and achievements over the years. In a sentence, John Carty was all graces and no airs and may he rest in peace.

1:10 pm

Photo of Mary WhiteMary White (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is a sad occasion when we are talking about John but I specifically thank Ms Kathleen Carty for her hospitality and empathy when we went to visit her on John's death. I will never forget her kindness and warmth to me. The nicest thing I can say about John is that he was never too busy to stand and speak to a person. In this quite fractious environment, people can be edgy and under pressure. He would always stand and speak. That is why he was so successful as a politician and as owner, along with Mrs Carty, of the beautiful hotel in Knock. I remember his lovely face and his gentleness. I talk about him as a patriot and a public servant who we can look up to and admire. I remember his kindness as a human being and the time he took to talk to people on a one-to-one basis when the need arose.

Photo of James HeffernanJames Heffernan (Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I welcome to the Seanad the former Cathaoirleach, Rory Kiely, who has been a friend of mine for a while. I also welcome the family of John Carty to the Seanad. I did not know John but from what people have said and from the tributes paid, including the very touching tribute by Senator Wilson, I gather he was one of the old crop and one of the good guys. He was of rural, decent and respected Fianna Fáil people. I gather he did not do airs or graces. From what I heard in the bar earlier when I asked the staff who Senator John Carty was, he was an absolute gentleman. That is how he was described by the people in the bar. He was respected by the workers in Leinster House and respected across the floor. My motto is that we should never look up or down on anyone. From what I gather from the staff, that is how he conducted himself. I wish the family well and I hope they have a good day. It will be nice to be in the bar afterwards exchanging good stories. I imagine there are a couple to tell.

Photo of Paul BradfordPaul Bradford (Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I welcome Kathleen and her family and all the friends of the former Senator and Deputy, John Carty. It is a sad occasion but also a happy one because it gives us the opportunity to reflect on a life well lived, which is such a stock phrase, but also on a parliamentarian who made a genuine and profound impact on all those who met him and knew him.

John was entering Dáil Éireann as I was leaving it, on an involuntary basis, in 2002 but five years later we both served in this House. Like many of the people who went from Dáil to the Seanad, who were promoted to the Upper House, he came to enjoy the Chamber of Seanad Éireann but also to use it effectively to present a different view of the world and to present a strong view of rural Ireland and rural life, its problems, opportunities and hopes. He made a profound parliamentary impact in Seanad Éireann. I did not serve in the Dáil with him but I served on the Oireachtas agriculture committee and in the Seanad. He made a significant contribution.

Of my memories of him, the foremost is of his decency. It has been said by so many that he was a smiling and happy face. Politics is full of stress and strife and, sadly it must be said, nastiness. It was so refreshing to come across, as Senator Mary White said, someone who has time to stop and chat. John Carty was one of those people.

As we reflect on his life, it should cause us to reflect on politics itself. John's political life was not dominated by Twitter, Facebook, social media or press releases. That seems to be the new politics but we should ask ourselves about the lasting impact and what impact will bring people to the galleries to sit in honour of a public representative. These are qualities like decency, engagement and a gentle way of doing business. John Carty ticked all those boxes and left us a strong legacy of public service to Mayo and the Oireachtas. He will be long and fondly remembered by those came in contact with him.

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh clann John Carty agus muintir Chnoc Mhuire agus Contae Mhaigh Eo atá anseo. I knew John very well when I was elected to the Dáil and in the past few years of his life. He was an incredibly decent person. I get to know him quickly when I was elected because of my connection to Knock. John was able to explain my family history better than I could myself. My great great great grand uncle built, Canon Patrick O'Grady, Knock parish church and every time I go to Knock I look in the historical booklet that John Carty contributed to. He wrote a chapter on the history of Knock parish church and that brings great pride to my family. It was a wonderful connection to have with John and the village of Knock of which I am very proud.

I express my sympathies. He had a tremendous way about him and he was a tremendous parliamentarian. When I needed support, I could always count on John in conversations. Go raibh sé ar dheis lamh Dé in neamh.

Photo of Mark DalyMark Daly (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I welcome the family to the Visitors Gallery. Another famous Mayo person, John Healy, wrote in 1968 the most famous tome about rural Ireland, No One Shouted Stop: Death of an Irish town. He lamented the decline of rural Ireland. While it laid out the issues of rural Ireland very well, it took people like John Carty to fight the decline of rural Ireland. As my colleague pointed out, there is no point in people lamenting the issues without people like John Carty fighting the issues. He did not fight it by press release or on Twitter or Facebook, he fought it on the ground.

It is a testament to him that Knock and surrounding areas have the infrastructure they have. He did not claim credit morning, noon and night, as many would, but he put his shoulder to the wheel. He ensured his was one of the voices that shouted, "Stop," to the decline of rural Ireland.

For the family who sacrifice so much, since they suffer the consequences of having someone in public life and people calling to the house at all hours of the day and night with all sorts of issue, it is as much their day as John's. It is important to pay tribute to them for all of the sacrifices they made during the years.

People die twice. There is, of course, the sad occasion of their passing, but then there is the time when people stop telling stories about them. Today we all share the stories about John, his generosity and calm and quiet way. I pay tribute to him and his family.

1:20 pm

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy to the family of the late John Carty. I welcome his wife, Kathleen, and members of the Carty and Regan families. The number of Senators present in the Chamber and the number who have spoken to pay tribute to him are a measure of, and a tribute to, the popularity of the late John Carty who was a very popular man. A number of former Members of the House are present, including Eamon Scanlon, John Ellis, the former Cathaoirleach, Rory Kiely, and Geraldine Feeney, with Deputies Dara Calleary and Éamon Ó Cuív, Councillor Caulfield from Ballyhaunis and former Deputy Johnny Brady from County Meath.

I knew John Carty very well. I served with him on Mayo County Council for a number of years, as well as in this House. He was an absolute gentleman. If there was ever a gentleman, he was one. He had a very close friend and great mentor in the late P. J. Morley who was a Member of the Dáil for over 20 years and served for many years on Mayo County Council. They were very close friends and got on very well together. Not all politicians get on well together, but these two gentlemen who were from the same area did.

There are people one meets throughout life and in politics of whom one has no abiding memories, but I have two of the late John Carty. One was when he announced grants to the constituency and it must be said he announced many. He brought many grants to the constituency, whether for industry, crèches, roads or whatever else. The majority of councillors and Deputies would make an announcement of a sum of €300,000 or €500,000, but John Carty would always say it was €300,150.59. He always referred to the pounds, shillings and pence.

My other memory of him concerns the first slogan John Carty used in his first general election campaign, "Carty cares". He did care. He had a very good man putting up these posters, Seamus Regan, who is in the Visitors Gallery and was a builder. After he had finished putting them up, they would not stir and nobody stole them. That was John Carty's slogan. It worked for him, as he was elected to the Dáil. It was a very good slogan.

As other Senators said, the Cartys had an open house in Knock. Everybody was welcome, regardless of who one was. Whether one was high or low, a politician, a priest or an ordinary person, it was an open house. John Carty represented the people of Knock, Ballyhaunis, Claremorris and south Mayo at a very high level in this House, the Dáil and on Mayo County Council. He put the people of County Mayo and his constituency first, whether it was at local authority level, in this House or the Lower House. He was a great advocate for Knock Airport and fought tooth and nail for every cent that was allocated to Knock during his term as a Member of the Houses. He worked tirelessly on its behalf, which was a great credit to him. There are many more monuments in the constituency to him.

John Carty was an absolute gentleman and I am delighted to say my few words in tribute to him. He was full of wisdom and a very funny man. He was also a dapper man. He was everything Members have said in the Chamber.

Kathleen is very welcome. It is a sad day and has been a sad year for her and her family. He is a great loss to her, Fianna Fáil and the people of County Mayo. However, he served the people very well and was a great family man. I have no doubt that he is in a very happy place. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Members rose.