Dáil Éireann - Volume 554 - 09 October, 2002

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy.

  Mr. Kenny: I would like to pay tribute to the life and work of the late David Moloney, who died on 4 September aged 52 years. David served as a representative for Tipperary North from 1977 until 1981 as a Member of Seanad Éireann and until 1987 as a Member of the Dáil, before retiring from national politics to run his family business in his native Thurles. He was also a member of the local authority.

  David Moloney was an outspoken and imaginative speaker, a creative mind and a courageous legislator. His pursuit of issues of interest to him was both relentless and fearless. He was widely respected both inside and outside this House. Regrettably he did not have the opportunity to serve at ministerial level, having not been appointed by either of the Fitzgerald Governments in the early 1980s.

  He was one of eight children reared in a family where the social work of his father, the late Dr. Paddy Moloney, was quite legendary. He was involved as an innovator in the setting up of the free legal aid centres which did so much in terms of legal work for so many people. He served as director of elections for Tipperary North in 1977 and was selected at a convention in autumn 1980 [497] to contest a by-election which resulted from the appointment of Michael O'Kennedy as Commissioner. In that convention he defeated another then member of Fine Gael, Michael Lowry.

  He won the 1981 election, the by-election not having been held, and served with distinction on the New Ireland Forum in 1984. He was a personal friend of mine and I regret his passing. On behalf of the Fine Gael Party and all his constituents, I would like to tender our sincere sympathy and the regrets of this House to his wife Eve, his two sons Patrick and Conor, his brothers Pierce, Paddy and Martin and his sisters Eleanor, Mary and Patricia.

  The Taoiseach: On behalf of both myself and the Fianna Fáil Party, I extend my deepest sympathy to Deputy Kenny and the Fine Gael Party on the death of David Moloney in early September. Born in Thurles in August 1950, he was educated in Thurles Christian Brothers' School, Coláiste na Rinne in Waterford, Copeswood College in Limerick, University College Dublin and the Law School of the Incorporated Law Society.

  In the early 1970s he clearly demonstrated what was a life-long interest in defending the rights of the less privileged in society with his involvement in the development of the voluntary group FLAC. He subsequently became its chairman and worked very actively in building it into a major organisation of centres. In 1973 he formed the legal firm Butler, Cunningham and Moloney and worked in the development of the family business.

  Elected to the Seanad in 1977, he was party spokesman on law reform, human rights and consumer affairs. He was elected to the Dáil for Tipperary North in 1981 and served as a Deputy until 1987. In 1987, as I think those of us who were here all remember, he retired from national politics and returned to his legal practice. In the recent general election, however, he was still active and working for his party as director of elections for one of the candidates and was still deeply involved. I knew David Moloney in the House at that time but did not have many dealings with him later on, though I know many people in this House continued to enjoy his friendship.

  He had a passionate concern for social issues which he demonstrated all his life as a Legislator, in his spare time and in his professional capacity as a lawyer. He was possessed of an easy manner which made people comfortable with him and was known to be a great listener. He never talked down to anyone, regardless of their background. He has been described as a people's lawyer, such was his concern for the rights of the small man, and he was never less than forthright about injustice. As a Member of the Oireachtas, he shone among his peers and was considered one of the most able performers in the Oireachtas at that time. He was never afraid to challenge the conventional wisdom or to put his head above the [498] parapet if he had a strong conviction about something. To him, principle was his guiding light.

  Having stood down from the Dáil, he cut short a political career to pursue his family business and to work in his legal practice. He dedicated his time more fully to his thriving legal career. Thurles, his native place, was dear to him and he had a noted love and interest in the people and its history.

  I join with Deputy Kenny and Members of the House in extending our sympathy to his wife, Eve, his sons, Patrick and Conor, and to his wider family. I extend the sympathies of the Fianna Fáil Party to them all. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

  Mr. Howlin: On behalf of the Labour Party, I would like to send my sympathies, and those of all my parliamentary colleagues, to the wife and sons of David Molony, and to the Fine Gael Party, on his untimely death. I knew David in the latter part of his political career which overlapped the start of my tenure in this House as a Senator, and I remember his performances in this House. He would have been regarded as among a new generation of able, gifted politicians earmarked to go to the top of the political system. That would have been the view from all sections of this House. It came as a surprise to many that he chose to do something quite unusual, that is, in his prime, with enormous potential politically, opt out of politics and return to his legal practice in Tipperary although he continued to be active in community and political affairs. It is important for us to have stalwarts like that who not only have political experience, but also a passion for our democratic processes.

  All of us were stunned to hear of David's untimely death during the recess. It underscores for all of us our own mortality. It must be a horrendous blow for his wife and his sons to endure. On behalf of Labour, I send my sympathies to them and to all his colleagues in Fine Gael, both in this House and in his constituency of Tipperary North.

  Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney): I would like to join with the Taoiseach and the other party leaders in extending my sympathy to the late David Molony's widow, Eve, and his sons, Patrick and Conor. When a political contemporary and a friend dies at such a young age, it deeply affects us all. I had the pleasure of knowing David Molony well. We both came into this House in 1977. In the Seanad at that time he displayed the skills of a quality politician. He was passionate and he was a conviction politician. Although he came from a rural constituency, he was very outspoken on the burning social issues of the day where he clearly would have defined himself as a liberal.

  When he was elected to the Dáil in 1981, he displayed the forensic skills for which he became renowned, namely, hounding the Government of [499] the day or proclaiming the virtues of his own party, Fine Gael, when it was in Government. Had he been in this House for a longer period, I have no doubt he would have been a very fine Minister, perhaps even a party leader and a Taoiseach. He opted out of politics but he stayed closely in touch with politics and, as Deputy Kenny said, he remained very involved with the Fine Gael Party. I met David in June of this year and it was hard to believe he was suffering from a serious illness, which I understood he had for the past number of years but which he did not discuss with anybody.

  On behalf of the Progressive Democrats, I extend my sympathy to somebody who came into politics for all the right reasons. It was his great sense of public service which led him to be one of the founders of the free legal aid centres, something which is commonplace now but which was mould-breaking in its day. I am sure that encouraged him to get involved in political activity. He will be sadly missed by his wife and family, his friends, his community in north Tipperary and by the Fine Gael Party. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

  Mr. Sargent: Thar ceann an Chomhaontais Ghlais ba mhaith liom chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le muintir David Molony, lena bhean Eve agus lena mhic Patrick agus Conor, leis an Teachta Kenny a chaill cara chomh maith le chomhleacaí, agus lena pháirtí, Fine Gael.

  David Molony's time in this House predates the time of the Green Party, Comhaontas Glas, but there is no doubt from all those who knew him that he is remembered as a very capable man who, in his involvement with politics nationally as well as his chairmanship of both Tipperary North Riding and the free legal aid advice centres, has left a mark and a noble legacy and example for others entering politics. His early retirement from formal politics brought great sadness to the people of Tipperary and more widely but his early death is a tragedy not just for his family, but for all of us who know people who died long before their time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

  Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: On my own behalf and on behalf of my colleagues in the Sinn Féin team in this House, I wish to join with those who have already spoken in an expression of sympathy to the wife, sons and all the bereaved of the late David Molony. I wish also to join in the expression of sympathy to his friends and colleagues in the Fine Gael Party. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

  Mr. Lowry: I wish to be associated with the words of sympathy to the family, relations and friends of David Molony. David Molony's untimely death was met with shock, disbelief and widespread sadness throughout Tipperary and Ireland. David had earned a reputation as one of [500] the leading solicitors in the country. His expertise was much sought after. Those who availed of his legal advice understand and appreciate the reason his legal practice is so successful. David had a sharp intellect and an extraordinary ability to quickly come to terms with technical detail. When he presented a legal or political point of view, it was always delivered with authority, conviction and impact.

  When David entered the Dáil in 1981, he was immediately recognised as someone who had exceptional ability and talent. His political awareness, innovative ideas on policy issues and parliamentary skills gained him instant recognition and huge admiration and respect across the political divide. David was very professional in his approach to everything he did. He was highly focused, motivated and organised. Ability and confidence were his hallmarks. David was also a man of great compassion who assisted countless numbers of people who found themselves in difficult circumstances. Above all, he enjoyed a very happy family life with Eve, Patrick and Conor and his loss to his family is immeasurable. David Molony was a real professional and a true gentleman. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

  Members rose.