Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy
We meet at this juncture to pay tribute to the late Senator Maurice Hayes. We will have tributes from speakers from various sides of the House but before I invite Senators to contribute, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Maurice’s wife, Johanna, to his children, Clodagh, Margaret, Dara, Garret and Ronan, and to some of Maurice’s grandchildren who are also present. On behalf of the Members of the Seanad, I would like to express again our sympathy to you and I hope that, since Maurice's death last December, you have been able, in your own ways, to come to terms with your sad loss.
In his public and civic life, Maurice Hayes was a man who made a remarkable contribution to his country in so many different ways. He made his mark early on the sports field, hurling for his native County Down, and later, as county secretary, engineering the Down football team’s first All-Ireland victory in 1960. Maurice’s commitment to community and public service was also evident in his early career choices, first teaching and then as town clerk in Downpatrick.
As a writer, an academic, a public servant and a Senator, the details of Maurice Hayes’s later career are well known. As we look back at his life, it is very evident that Maurice was a man who was driven by a strong commitment to public service, to helping find solutions to problems, including those others might have seen as intractable, and to doing the best he could for his country. In the Northern Ireland context, Maurice, while imbued with the best traditions of his own community, had respect for all traditions and contributed to the betterment of all. A man of great principle, it was his sense of integrity, decency and honesty that guided all his endeavours.
Maurice spent ten years as a Member of this House, from 1997 to 2007. I had the privilege of serving as a Member of these Houses while Maurice was here. I will, therefore, remember Maurice not only for his contribution as a public man and a true patriot, but also as a friendly and decent man of good humour and good company. As I said earlier, I deliberately wore the red and black today to indicate the Down colours of which he was very proud.
On a personal note, when I lost my Dáil seat in 2007, which is a difficult pill to swallow, six people rang me to try to console me and wish me well, one of whom was the late Maurice Hayes. It was very kind of him and a very nice gesture. My memory of him in the Seanad is that when he spoke, one would listen to him. He did not speak every day, but when he spoke he had something to say.Most Senators would listen to the sincerity of his views on issues he brought before us in this Chamber. The House was the poorer for his departure and Ireland is the poorer for his loss. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
I join the Cathaoirleach in welcoming members of the Hayes family to the Visitors Gallery and thank them for being here. As the Cathaoirleach rightly said, the time that has elapsed since the sad passing of former Senator Maurice Hayes has allowed all of us and members of his family, in particular, to reflect on a life well lived as a public person but also as a dad and a grandfather. The words used to describe him included "diamond standard" and "a stalwart man of Down". In reflecting on and reading about his life we have to be grateful and thank his wife and family for allowing him to be the builder of bridges and seeker of consensus. We have to recognise that there are two traditions on the island. In Maurice Hayes' own family his dad came from the South and his mum from the North. They were the forerunners in building bridges.
It was appropriate that the Cathaoirleach led the acknowledgments as he served with Maurice Hayes, as did Senators Coghlan and Paddy Burke on our side of the House. He was a distinguished public servant who, as was said, was not given to speaking in this Chamber every day. However, when he did, Members listened in the 21st and the 22nd Seanad. As chairman of the National Forum on Europe and being involved in the Patten commission on policing in Northern Ireland, he was very proud of being a bridge. I am using the word a lot because that is what he was. He was a facilitator and a person interested in all of the people of the island, north, south, east and west.
Maurice Hayes was proud of his County Down roots. As someone involved in Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, I read his plan for the Down Gaelic Athletic Association which he saw come to fruition, not just with one all-Ireland title but a couple. There was also a conveyor belt of talent at under age level, leading on to senior level. I had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions and the GAA was one of our many conversational pieces. It was an interesting day when Cork beat Down in the 2010 all-Ireland final. For me as a member of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, I know that it took some ability for him, as a person who was both a player and an administrator, to put in place a plan and see it come to fruition. Really, it was a touch of genius. I was a member of the marketing committee at Croke Park. I often said that if we had done what they had done in County Down at the time and replicated it across the country, perhaps Dublin might not have won four in a row. That is, however, is a matter for another day.
At a difficult time in the country Maurice Hayes stood up and was involved as a public servant when it was most needed. That was the case, whether it was policing, the failed Executive or advising Mr. Brian Faulkner or others. He was always the voice and the contributor who tried to talk reason. We all valued his contribution. There is the cliché a life well lived. In the case of Maurice Hayes, it was as a public servant and a person who left a legacy. It was a lived legacy, a shared legacy, one to which he contributed handsomely. The challenge for all of us is to go back and read and reflect on the reports of the new community relations commission which he chaired at a very sensitive time in the North.
Mar fhocal scoir, Maurice Hayes was a gentleman who enjoyed good company, a man of intellect and integrity and a man who was fair and just. He had a deep sense of justice and admiration for people who were trying to make life better, no matter who they were or where they were from. He was also a sportsperson. Above all, I go back to the word I have used the most. He was that bridge-builder who today we rightly remember and whom we thank for a life well lived.
I will split my time with Senator Leyden who served with the late former Senator Maurice Hayes. I welcome the Hayes family to the Chamber. I convey my condolences and those of the Fianna Fáil group to them on the passing of their father, grandfather and husband. We are here to pay tribute to him and his distinguished career. I did not know him, but after my research, I am struck by the fact that he was an academic, a father, a sportsman and a politician. He seemed to have it all and was well rounded. I have been speaking to many colleagues and some of the staff in Leinster House and asking them for their thoughts and recollections of Maurice Hayes. It has been said he was a genuine man who was great to deal with. What they really remembered was his contribution to Northern Irish politics, all of his hard work and the massive contribution and sacrifices he had made personally in his career. The Leader mentioned his huge contribution to the Patten commission on the future of policing in Northern Ireland and the review of Tallaght Hospital, but he was also a noted journalist. Clearly he had a huge grá for Ireland and spent so much of his time writing reports and articles. His love of the country was clear from all of his achievements throughout his life. I am married to a northerner from County Donegal where Gaelic football is such a huge part of life. It seems Maurice Hayes excelled as a hurler. My family in County Donegal are all footballers. Maurice Hayes seemed to be a man with a plan when it came to ensuring success, not just in sport but in all aspects of his life. I refer to his academic life and gaining a PhD, as well as to his very successful political career. I again convey my condolences to his family. I am happy to pay tribute to him.
I welcome the family of the late former Senator Maurice Hayes to the Chamber. I welcome his lovely wife, Joan, and his family, Clodagh and Nick, Margaret and Keith, Dara and Jane and William, Charlotte, Cecilia, Harriet and Garrett and family, Ronan, Laura and son Maurice. The grandchildren should be very proud of their grandfather. I had the honour of serving with him for nearly five years and what struck me most was his great humour, humility and ability. In a sense, with that ability came humility. One would not realise his achievements which were absolutely enormous. Few people realise the work to which he contributed in Northern Ireland. He rose through the ranks of the civil service to become the most senior civil servant in Northern Ireland. He played an enormous role in the Good Friday Agreement and before that the Downing Street Declaration, as well as everything else that happened in Northern Ireland. That is why the former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, decided to appoint him as one of his 11 nominees to Seanad Éireann. He was reappointed for a second term, which is unusual because very few are reappointed among the Taoiseach's 11 nominees. Because of his contributions, he was a vital part of this House. He had enormous ability which we have to say with great sincerity. He lived a great and a good life and his family will miss him as much as ever.
Maurice Hayes was also appointed to chair the National Forum on Europe. If he was still here, he would have been of enormous assistance in dealing with Brexit. His ability would have been enormously helpful. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude.
My grandparents came from Lurgan, County Armagh and we often spoke about the North and developments there. As the Leader said, Maurice Hayes was a bridge between the North and the South.He was a great attender in this House. I agree totally with the Leader and Cathaoirleach. When he spoke in the House he spoke with such sincerity and conviction. If his family get an opportunity to read through his contributions to the House, they will be singularly proud of what he said and the role he played in North-South relations over a long period. We could go on for a long time but I wish to sincerely congratulate the family of Maurice Hayes. He was a man among men and a leader of this country. As the Cathaoirleach has said, we were privileged to have served with him in the House. God rest his soul.
It is a great honour for me to be able to participate in this tribute to the late Maurice Hayes and to do so in particular in the presence of his family, including his wife, Joan, his daughters, Clodagh, Margaret and Dara, and his sons, Garrett and Ronan, as well as their extended families and connections who are in the House today.
Maurice Hayes was born in 1927 in Killough in County Down. The interesting thing is that in 1987 he retired because he reached the mandatory retiring age of 60 years. By 1995 he had written two volumes of autobiography. They are fascinating accounts of his life, growing up, his involvement in the GAA and his involvement in the Northern Ireland Civil Service, including his ascent through the Northern Ireland Civil Service to positions of great seniority. One point that came across to me and that was self-evident to everyone he met was that his ability brought him to the top of the administration in Northern Ireland at a time when people from his background could not expect to be treated fairly at a time of promotion. His ability, wisdom, likeability and commitment to serving his community guaranteed that his talents would be recognised, even in a society not prone to giving a fair crack at the whip to everyone at a time of promotion.
Apart from becoming permanent secretary of a department in Northern Ireland, he was to serve as the chairman of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Commission. When he retired 30 years ago he had many years of public service to perform, including terms as the Northern Ireland Ombudsman and playing a major role in 1998 as part of the peace process in Northern Ireland by participating in the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland. He was not simply another member in the Patten commission. He had intimate knowledge of the affairs of Northern Ireland as well as the fears and concerns of both communities. He played a major role in enabling Christopher Patten and his commission to come up with a formula that eventually gave rise to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which has been a dramatic success. The existence of that body and its success is a monument to Maurice Hayes.
At that time in 1998, Maurice Hayes was a Member of this House, having been appointed by the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. It is worthwhile reminding ourselves of his time here. It has been said that he did not always intervene, and that is true. The first occasion he spoke was in a debate on the Ombudsman report. He said:
I spent all my life in the public service. I feel like a barman who finds himself on the wrong side of the counter, and having seen what it has done to his customers in the past, is afraid of getting a taste for it. I am a non-affiliated Independent Member of the Seanad. It gives me great pleasure to be sitting in the seat occupied by my old friend, Gordon Wilson, and that I follow my fellow townsman, John Robb, into the Seanad. I am grateful to the Taoiseach for his nomination and I am even more grateful for the generosity with which he accommodated my wish to remain Independent. I wanted to remain Independent because, coming from Northern Ireland, I wanted to respect the bipartisan policy on Northern Ireland which has been maintained in the Oireachtas over the years... I wanted to follow the precedent set by that great public servant, Dr. Ken Whitaker, who accepted the nomination on an independent basis to underline the political neutrality of the Civil Service, North and South, and I hope I can do that. Given those constraints, I hope I can be useful to the House.
He was useful to the House. I was a Minister from 2002 to 2007. Many Members in the House now who were present in the years when he was a Member will note that he was not given to making speeches for their own sake. As has been commented on before, every time he spoke he was listened to with great attention. Those were his first words on coming into the House. I would like to remember what he said about his role in this House on the last occasion he spoke, on 4 July 2007. He said:
The Taoiseach has done me a great honour and being allowed to serve in this way is a privilege I do not take lightly. Not only has it been a privilege, it has been a pleasure and I thank Members on all sides for the general courtesy and welcome that has been extended to me during my time here.
I want to remind the House of what he did in those years. He chaired the National Forum on Europe. It has been commented on that we could perhaps do with a similar version of that body now. He chaired a body established by me, as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, on the future management of An Garda Síochána. It reported in 2006. When there was a problem in Tallaght Hospital he chaired a committee of inquiry into the matter and reported to the Houses of the Oireachtas. In other words, in the 30 years of his retirement he spent his time constantly working for the good of Ireland in positions of notoriety and in other positions that were barely heard of.
Undoubtedly, those who met him felt they were in the presence of someone who had an aspect of greatness. It is difficult to put a finger precisely on the qualities he brought to the public debate when he entered it. First, he was wise. Second, he was serious when it was needed but rather witty when that was helpful too. Third, he gave the impression of knowing what he spoke about as well as being willing to listen to the other point of view. That is a major point because we can all think we know what we are speaking about but he had that extra quality.
Let us consider the circumstances that brought him to play such a central role in the affairs of Northern Ireland for many years, as well as in the North-South dimension thereafter. His extraordinary capacity to understand what the other community in Northern Ireland felt and feared about the circumstances with which he was dealing marked him out above nearly all other people at the time. He was someone who could, as has been said here today, build bridges. He came from a Catholic nationalist, GAA-playing background. He could have simply identified with his community and been feted as one of the heroes of his community - he would not have used the term too lightly about himself - but he was, by contrast, someone who understood that the real issue in Ireland was reconciliation. He understood the real issue was about partnership between the people of Northern Ireland, engagement between the two communities in Northern Ireland and the breaking down of barriers between them.
When the Patten commission came forward he said that it would only be of value if young Catholic men and women joined it. He constantly said – this is something we should bear in mind – that when looking back over the previous quarter century of violence whereas we should be truthful about it, we should never engage in glorifying that which was nasty about it.
When he came to this State and to this part of the country in the last third of his life, he played his part as a director of Independent News and Media.He was important in steering that body in the way it went. He played his part in public discourse by attending all sorts of conferences and making speeches of major import to try to change Irish attitudes. He wrote brilliantly as a columnist in the newspaper with both wit and tersity of language. There was a Northern economy of verbiage in making his point.
This House has had as Members many people in it who have excelled and who have served the national interest and the interest of all facets of the people far beyond the norm. Dr. Maurice Hayes, in his multiple careers, has done not merely the people of County Down, Northern Ireland, the whole of Ireland or these whole islands huge service, he has done this House immense service. He was immensely proud of his membership of this House and it was one of the greatest achievements of his time. It was something on which he placed huge value. It is very appropriate, therefore, that on this occasion we mark in the strongest terms our gratitude to him through his family. He gave to Ireland such service, friendship and wisdom. It is with the smallest "p" but in the strongest meaning of the term he gave such sustained patriotism.
Dr. Maurice Hayes had many great attributes and achievements, as colleagues have referred to. I came to this House with him in 1997 and served with him through his ten years here. I will not be able to do justice to his work, as Senator McDowell and the Leader have done. He was a major contributor to the Patten report, which has been referred to, and which reformed policing in Northern Ireland, leading to the creation of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. He was a key figure behind the scenes working on the Sunningdale Agreement in 1973 and he was the first Catholic appointed as Northern Ireland Ombudsman. He was appointed as chair of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 implementation review group and he served as permanent secretary of the Department of Health at Stormont. As has been widely referred to, he had a lifelong association with the GAA and was a fluent Irish speaker. As has also been referred to, he made contributions at many levels throughout Irish society, both North and South. He was a member of the working group on Seanad reform, which pre-dated the work mentioned by Senator McDowell. I might have agreed more with Maurice than my honourable friend opposite. He was everything the Senators have said. He spoke wisely and well always. He was a great friend.
I hope he does and I wish him well. I acknowledge that Senator McDowell is a wise man but it might be slightly misdirected in that instance. Maurice was a true friend and great patriot. I used often to have breakfast and supper with him. We stayed in the same house. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCathaoirleach as ucht seal a thabhairt dúinn cúpla focal a rá faoi shaol Maurice Hayes agus comhbhrón a dhéanamh lena chlann atá linn inniu. I thank the Cathaoirleach for this opportunity afforded to Members, not least those of us who were elected after Maurice's time in the Seanad, to reflect not just on his life within this institution but his mammoth input into the life of Ireland, North and South, as has been rightly said. I extend a particular welcome to Maurice's family, who are with us today for what is no doubt a very significant and emotional event for them as well. I am delighted to see the Cathaoirleach in the red and black and I am very conscious of Maurice's role with Down GAA, as was touched on by the Leader. We could certainly do with minds as forensic and as sharp as his in the context of Brexit and all of the trepidation in Irish society. As someone who follows Down GAA, boy could we really do with his mind when it comes to county football as well. Sin scéal eile.
As has been said, over many years Maurice made a significant contribution to the political, cultural and sporting life of Ireland, especially to County Down, as I would unashamedly add. He made an important contribution to the Patten commission on policing and he was Ombudsman for the North. He was a Gaeilgeóir, a Seanadóir in the Oireachtas and, as I mentioned, he has been credited with Down's legendary status in Gaelic football of the 1960s, when they brought the Sam Maguire cup home across the Border for the first time.
I will briefly speak to the surroundings I presume helped to shape the man. Maurice grew up in Killough, which would be very familiar to people from my home. We tend to go there to retreat and clear our heads. It is a particularly scenic and beautiful part of the county. He spent his formative years in Downpatrick. He did not leave and take to other shores but this perhaps instilled in him a missionary spirit of wanting to share abilities, talent and his understanding of the complexities of life in Ireland, as has been mentioned. There is no question that he did that exceptionally well. There is no doubt that while people in the past in his role would have had political and, I am sure, philosophical arguments with Maurice, he understood the complexities of Irish politics in Irish cultural life. He was up for that and it is what is needed. That is what leadership, change and progression is all about. One must have the understanding and act upon that.
Senator McDowell is absolutely right. Whether it has been the case all the way through, it is certainly the case now that what remains unfulfilled and to be done for the Irish nation includes the issue of reconciliation. Maurice Hayes was evident in this through his work, public and private, and in how he lived his life and conducted himself. He was not afraid of that project or progress. I did not know Maurice Hayes personally but I knew of him. In my formative years I saw the formation of the nucleus and emergence of the peace process, which ultimately became a success, and in doing so I knew who Maurice Hayes was. With the onset of years, one can appreciate who Dr. Maurice Hayes was and what he did. He gave an example through his life, not just to his family, community, county and nation but to those of us who now have the privilege to stand here in Seanad Éireann. We must remind ourselves of his life and be thankful of that and what he has given. We must also continue his work.
On behalf of the Civil Engagement group, I express my sympathy and appreciation for the life, work and example of the late Maurice Hayes. Twice in my life I came under his influence. I know now that one of those occasions was on 24 September 1961, the Sunday when Down beat Offaly by the narrowest of margins of one point. I was a little five year old at mass when a villainous and humorous neighbour of mine kept whispering into my ear, "Up Down, up Down." I did not know what "Down" was, but I knew what "up-down" meant. To have a bit of variety in the Latin responses, I said, "up Down." In the early 2000s, when he was a Member of the Seanad, he attended a meeting in Tullamore, County Offaly which coincidentally was about people with disabilities, personal assistants, education and such matters. He was there to speak, but one knew the whole time that he was a listener. As I said before, he knew the ratio of ears to mouth. One listens more than one speaks. I often think that is something of which those of us involved in politics need to ever remind ourselves. Otherwise he would have been a quiet, episodic presence in my life.
A range of things have been mentioned. Maurice Hayes started adult life as a teacher. He was also a town clerk and the Northern Ireland Ombudsman. Other Members have gone through the long litany. He orchestrated that victory. Coming from County Tipperary, I have to underline, in particular, his ability in and love of hurling. His work on policing, at the National Forum on Europe, with the Ireland Funds, etc. has been mentioned. He had a very varied life. I have not mentioned his family, including his grieving wife, Joan, and other family members. What gave his life cohesion and made it a story to be reflected on and learned from? He was a quiet person, a listener, with a quiet determination guided by principle or principles. As has been said, he had a pluralist and inclusive vision of society and community. As Senator McDowell said, he understood the real issue as being one of reconciliation. To be serious for one moment, I hope reconciliation on the issue of Seanad reform will break out between Senators Coghlan and McDowell. I guess Maurice Hayes trusted in the simple example of how he lived his life. That is a thought I have about him. He got on and did things with a good heart, good spirit and out of a sense of principle and public duty. They add up. If it is of any comfort to his family, as someone who was never close to him, I felt his presence throughout the decades. He popped up in different places at different times, but there was always the quiet persona. He was always listening and trying to find the way through.
Occasions such as this in the Seanad are precious and powerful, certainly for me and I think colleagues too, to reflect on the things about which we get overly bothered, as distinct from what our lives and public service should be about. Maurice Hayes continues to be a guide for us . He can truly and easily rest in peace after his lifetime of service to his community. Those who were close to him, loved him and still love him miss him everyday. They will miss those idiosyncrasies, although I do not know what they are or were. They will miss those things, those turns of phrases, what would give him joy or perhaps annoy him. We cannot take the sting out of what they will feel every day and every night. All others here and I can do is say he lived a good life and left not only a legacy to his family but to all of us. May he rest in peace. God bless you all.
It was a great honour to serve for ten years in this House with the late Maurice Hayes. I was greatly shocked when I heard that he had died because I had met him not long before in the bar in Leinster House. I extend my sympathy to his wife, Joan, sons, daughters, grandchildren and extended family.
Maurice Hayes was a great appointment to the Seanad by Bertie Ahern. He was also a great reappointment. His contributions rank with any contribution ever made here. He was a director of the Irish Independentnewspaper and the articles he wrote in it, as Senator McDowell said, were unbelievable. His wit on some occasions, not only in this House but in his articles, was unbelievable. He was also a great civil servant. It is very hard to add to what other speakers have said about him, but he was an absolute gentleman for every person who ever met him. He was multi-talented, from being a writer to an administrator, a debater, a GAA man and a GAA administrator.
I had many conversations with Maurice Hayes about the GAA. I think I see Seán O'Neill who is very welcome to the Chamber. He brought the Sam Maguire cup - I was going to say across the River Shannon where we are waiting for it in County Mayo - to the North for the first time in 1960 and 1961. When I was playing football more recently, there was an old tradition that at half time one had an orange or half of one. More recently, people have said one should eat fruit after training to prevent the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles. I decided that I would ask Maurice what the position was with the Down team in 1960 and 1961. I asked if they usually ate oranges at half time and, if they did, what was the reason for it? He said they did, but he did not know the reason. He said it was an old rugby thing. I am still none the wiser. It was a great honour to be here with him and I was saddened by his death. I sympathise with his family, including his extended family. He was a loss to this House and is a loss to the country and the island as a whole.
On behalf of Labour Party Senators, I pay tribute to the late Dr. Maurice Hayes and join others in welcoming his wife, Joan; children, grandchildren and extended family. It is a pleasure to have them with us. I express my sympathy and that of my colleagues to them on their loss. I also express gratitude for the great, full and productive life that he led and the extraordinary contribution he made to public service in Ireland and on the whole island, North and South.As Gerry Moriarty put it in TheIrish Timeslast December, for more than 60 years Maurice had a distinguished and varied career in public service. His significant contribution to Irish and Northern Irish society spanned local government, the Civil Service, the peace process, policing and the arts. I did not have the pleasure of serving with him in this House as I was elected in 2007 and he had served the previous ten years in the Seanad. I did have the pleasure of meeting and speaking alongside him at a panel to discuss the policing reform that was being brought in by our present colleague, Senator McDowell, who was then a Minister. He spoke so eloquently and in such an erudite and wise fashion about the policing reforms we were bringing in here. He was so informed by and integral to the process of policing reform in the North through his membership of the Patten commission and his experience as the first Catholic ombudsman in Northern Ireland. It was a real pleasure to have had even that short experience of speaking alongside and meeting him.
Listening to the contributions of others, I was struck by what a gentleman he was and how humorous and witty he was. He had a great turn of phrase, even when speaking about matters as serious as policing. Senator Dolan spoke about the spirit of Dr. Hayes being with us. I thought of him in the House last night as we debated the report of the disclosures tribunal, which examined various matters arising out of policing issues. I wondered what he would have had to say on that topic.
Others have spoken of the enormous contribution made by Dr. Hayes in so many ways. I have mentioned his work on policing, but of course he was also chairperson of the National Forum on Europe. In that capacity, he facilitated vital conversations with a wide range of stakeholders and I met him in that context also. We could indeed do with that sort of body now. He was also a great public servant, committed to deep reform of the civil service but also recognising its enormous value, saying it performed a vital balancing role in the machinery of a functioning democracy. Others have spoken about his very varied interests, including sports, the arts, literature, the media, his distinguished chairing of the Ireland Funds and so on. He was really a statesman in the fullest sense of the word, bringing experience and intellect to bear on his role in public life. He had a long and extensive contribution and insight to reconciliation and peace in the North.
He also had a lot to say about the nature of democracy. I was struck by how timely and prescient his words were, looking back at an address he made at the MacGill summer school just four years ago in 2014. He spoke so eloquently about democracy, titling his speech, Even the Greeks know that Utopia is merely another word for nowhere. It was a humorous start to a speech that was full of very interesting and valuable insights into political life in Ireland. That was, of course, under a previous Government. Dr. Hayes began his speech by saying that respect for the political process is not helped by what he called the "Paxmanisation" - a new word to me - of political interviewing, in which politicians of whatever hue are invariably presented as crooks dodging disclosure in an identity parade. It was a typically humorous start with a very serious message.
He provided such wise insights into political life, how to move forward in a democracy and how to move the peace process forward. In that same address, on the topic of the peace process, he quoted Edmund Burke in speaking of how the past can be a barrier to moving forward. He said "the true way to mourn the dead is to take care of the living who belong to them". That is a very fitting epitaph for such a great public servant.
It is an honour to be associated with the tributes to Maurice Hayes. I welcome all of the Hayes family to the Gallery as we celebrate and fondly remember a great statesman for the wonderful contribution he made to all of Ireland, North and South. I did not serve with him in the House, but even watching his statesmanlike contributions from a distance, it seemed to me that integrity, honesty, leadership, loyalty and commitment were his middle names.
I did get to know him at various GAA events over the years. I met the great Seán O'Neill down there and I welcome him to the Gallery as well. People like Seán O'Neill and the great Down team of that era have praised and revered the way that Maurice Hayes pulled all the strings together to bring Gaelic football into a new era. Senator Paddy Burke mentioned the oranges. The Down team in Croke Park was the first team to wear tracksuits; it is all very accepted now but it was not the case then. He broke many glass ceilings and the 1961 all-Ireland final had the highest attendance of any all-Ireland final. There were about 91,000 at it. Health and safety was not a major factor at the time. There were people on top of the Nally stand and on top of the walls and everything.
The Galway team of that era won three in a row before Down came back to win again. Having been associated with that Galway team, I know there was a great friendship and respect as well as rivalry between those teams. I was talking to George Glynn a few weeks ago, a native of Galway who was on one of those Down teams. He was telling me it was Maurice Hayes who heard of his exploits in the Sigerson Cup and that he was not playing for Galway, and he ended up working in County Down and winning an all-Ireland with Down. There was a great book-ending there of the rivalry but also the friendship between the Galway and Down teams.
It is a privilege to pay tribute to Maurice Hayes here. When I did meet him, the sincerity that the man exuded and the charisma confirmed everything that I had admired from afar in his contributions in this House and in various political and administrative roles over the years. I offer my deepest sympathy to the family. We will remember him fondly.
We are here today to pay tribute to Dr. Maurice Hayes, a former Senator. I warmly welcome Joan and Dr. Hayes's extended family who are here today for this very special occasion. I am not going to repeat altogether what many have said. Suffice it to say that he had a great love of sport, literature, music and all forms of arts, Irish culture and language. He was constantly quoting many great writers and had a great love of Heaney, Joyce and Wilde among many others. He loved literature, music and good company. He would cut people down pretty quick if they kept going on and on.
I received a telephone call from Maurice Hayes in 2009 when he asked me if I would be in Dún Laoghaire that day. I was not planning to be there but it was Maurice Hayes and he said he had something for me. I was more interested in finding out what he had. He brought me the book I have in my hand now, a combined volume of the work of the National Forum on Europe. As Senators and Dr. Hayes's family will know, this is a combination of various contributions to the forum of which I was a member. The National Forum on Europe was established in 2001 and lasted until 2008. There were more than 100 plenary sessions. I was on the steering committee, and very early on, Maurice met us and said it was important to take the work of the forum around the country. He was very much plugged into local communities and how different people have different perspectives on life, Europe, Northern Ireland politics and so on. He convinced us and, more importantly, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of the Taoiseach to spend money. We went around the various town halls. He tapped into people of all political hues and none and asked for their contributions. He was a committed European and I would be interested to hear what he would have to say about our current circumstances. Without writing history, we will know that Fine Gael did not take a seat on the National Forum on Europe for approximately two years.With his diplomatic skills he convinced the then new leader of Fine Gael, Deputy Enda Kenny, to join the forum. That was a particularly important day because it made the forum complete and it had been strange that a big party such as Fine Gael was not on the National Forum on Europe. That was the measure of the man and it showed his capacity to negotiate. He was a pragmatist and always saw the potential to bring people together. I cherish the book and I can get one for his family if they do not have a copy.
Maurice would solve disputes and he liked to get people to move on. He had a great fondness for Deputy McDonald and I remember him, at a steering committee meeting, insisting that everybody get an equal time for a contribution. He admired everyone and he went out of his way to facilitate everyone. At every lunch at the round table in Dublin Castle he would make a point of having different people at his table and he never sat with the same people twice. He kept a little note at the back of his book of whose turn it was to sit with him and that showed his attention to the little details.
He was acutely aware of the importance of the power of the media and he played a significant role as director of Independent News and Media. He contributed greatly to its publications and to others. He had a sharp wit and intellect and he always brought a newness and freshness to the angle of his story. We talk a lot about the press today but he was an advocate of free press and open and transparent media - both the print and broadcast media. This made the National Forum on Europe work because he briefed its members in an open way after every meeting.
I remember his great stories, his empathy and understanding of the Irish diaspora and his knowledge of the experience of Irish emigration to the United Kingdom and further afield to the United States of America. He was a fine man and an important man. He fully understood the importance of equal access to opportunities in education and ongoing training in life skills, something to which he was fiercely committed, as he was to the potential of the island of Ireland. People did not talk about it at that time but he never used the terms "Northern Ireland" or "the South of Ireland". Instead, he talked about the island of Ireland and its potential to unify people through arts, culture and music. I learned from him that if one won people's hearts one won their minds. One can have great political achievements by including people and bringing them along to break down suspicion.
I cannot but mention Maurice's great love for his wife and his family. He always remembered where he came from and he was rooted there. He had deep faith which was, as he said, always evolving and changing. It was always being challenged but he was never afraid to challenge. I admired him because he openly talked about his faith, which was not an issue for him at a time when it was an issue for many people to talk about their beliefs.
He was a man of justice and great compassion and fairness, which he brought to all his work. He was a truly proud Ulsterman and a truly proud Irishman. They say "Blessed are the peacemakers". He was truly blessed and his family are blessed to have had a wonderful father and a wonderful friend. We will remember him fondly in both Houses of the Oireachtas.
I came into this House in 2002. I grew up in a newsagent shop so we did not have to pay for our newspapers and I was able to read all of them. I was always intrigued about the life of Maurice Hayes and I met the great man when I came into the House for the first time. He was a man of dignity and respect and had a huge intellect, with a Rolls Royce of a mind. He knew that my grandfather came from Cullyhanna and in this House I welcomed the fact that Armagh had won the all-Ireland in 2002 but I was told to sit down. Senator Hayes, however, sitting behind me said, "Keep going, young man, you are doing what is right."
He was listened to very often and was a diplomat. Indeed, he was more a diplomat than a politician. If only he was listened to by Brian Faulkner when he said internment would be a disaster or when, as assistant secretary for the power-sharing executive, he said it had been rushed. His country and the island of Ireland is a much better place because of men such as Maurice Hayes. If he had been listened to at the seminal moments to which I referred, the country would have been a much better place back then. He was a wonderful husband and father to Johanna and his family and we were all very proud of him. He was a patriot of the island of Ireland.
I have been very impressed by the number of people who contributed and by the variety of contributions. I knew Maurice Hayes for some years but I learned things today that I did not know and it is fitting that we have spent the past hour in tributes to a wonderful man.