Seanad Éireann - Volume 170 - 12 September, 2002

Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy.

  Ms O'Rourke: In accordance with Standing Order 80(a) I propose that expressions of sympathy may be heard on the death of the two former Members. There will be one speaker from each group. I understand that Senators Coonan, Cummins, Hanafin and Ormonde also wish to contribute.

  I pay tribute to two former Members of this House. The first is the late David Molony. Many of us knew David very well. He served on the Cultural and Educational Panel of the Seanad from 1977 until 1981 when he successfully contested the general election. He served in Dáil Éireann until 1987. I remember him distinctly because he was a very fervent contributor on educational matters in the Dáil.

  I am aware that here we are speaking about him as a Member of this House. In his four years on the Cultural and Educational Panel he spoke strongly on many matters, especially legal, justice and consumer affairs. His greatest political passions were justice, human rights and education. He spoke very eloquently, with great force and passion, on all of those matters. His death, at 52, was very early and very sad for his wife Eve and his two sons, Patrick and Conor. They bear the brunt of such an early demise. It is extremely difficult for them to have lost their husband and father.

  The legal profession, which David Molony served with great distinction, has lost a very valued member. He always upheld the highest traditions of integrity in his legal practice. His colleagues in Fine Gael will have much more to say about him.

  I knew David very well when I was in Opposition in the Dáil, from 1983 to 1987. We often discussed matters of educational interest. He had a very fine mind. He was instrumental in setting up the Free Legal Advice Centre and became its first president. In that and all other matters his humanitarian character, which he inherited from his father who was a well-known medical practitioner in Thurles and the surrounding area, came into everything he said and did. He was strongly active within his party during the last election and contributed greatly to his party. On behalf of my party and as Leader of the House I express sympathy to his wife, Eve, and to his two sons, Patrick and Conor. We share their sense of grief.

[20]  The second former Member of the House to have passed away was Michael Queally from Kilmacthomas in County Waterford. He served in the House from 1983 until 1987, on the Agricultural Panel. The obituaries in the local Waterford papers showed how he was regarded. His passing evoked a huge wave of genuine sympathy and regard from all of the people of the area. Contributions to the local paper spoke highly of his integrity, his record as a family man and his chairmanship of Waterford County Council on one or two occasions. He was an outstanding member of the county council for 25 years. His most outstanding trait was the way in which he represented people from all walks of life who came to see him and for whom he made cases and acted as a general ombudsman on their behalf.

  Many of us knew Michael in this House. He was always friendly and affable. He strongly represented agricultural interests in this House. He will be missed by Fine Gael, his wife, Carmel, sons, Michael and Patrick, and daughters, Helen, Mary, Cora and Bridget. To all of them we convey our deep sympathy.

  Mr. B. Hayes: I thank the Leader for the warm tributes she paid to two of our colleagues, David Molony and Michael Queally, who died tragically recently. I did not know David Molony well, although in recent years I got to know him a little better. His death at the age of 52 was a tragic loss for his family, the Thurles and Tipperary North area and particularly for Fine Gael. We feel a great sense of loss.

  David Molony was a great parliamentarian. He took seriously his roles as a Senator from 1977-81 and a Deputy from 1981-87. He was a politician of conviction as has been noted in a number of the obituaries written about him since his untimely death. There was a famous occasion during the 1986 divorce referendum campaign when the former Deputy Molony was chastised from the altar in his constituency. Nowadays, that would be seen by many as a benefit to politicians, but in those days it was somewhat different. It took great conviction for one who represented what was ostensibly a rural constituency to take the position he took in 1986. He was a man of deep conviction and of principle. His stance on the 1986 divorce referendum campaign highlighted that particular point.

  David Molony came from a privileged background. He did not want for anything and was given a wonderful opportunity through education. He knew his responsibilities to the poor. In the 1970s he worked towards the establishment of free legal aid centres because he believed passionately that the State had a direct responsibility to ensure that those who could not have recourse to the law because of their financial situation had access to free legal aid. David Molony, along with many other young solicitors and barristers, did Trojan work in the 1970s in estab[21]lishing the free legal aid system, for which he deserves credit.

  Last Friday and Saturday was a sad occasion in Thurles. I had an opportunity to meet his wife, Eve, and two sons, Conor and Patrick, who are ten and 12 years of age. That he was taken from us so quickly is a terrible tragedy given that he was gifted and had much to offer. Even though he retired from active politics in 1987 he remained a loyal supporter of our party, most recently as director of elections for Senator Coonan. I am sure he did his best to turn votes for Senator Coonan in the Cultural and Educational Panel in the recent Seanad election against me, for which I also congratulate him. David Molony had many friends in the House and outside politics. It is only right to record our tributes to him in the House today.

  I did not know Michael Queally but I know from speaking with colleagues the respect he enjoyed throughout the Fine Gael organisation, particularly in his native County Waterford, as Senator Cummins will testify later. He gave over 25 years service to local government which is an unbelievable contribution by a politician today. He represented the people of his native Kilmacthomas with great distinction and pride as a member of Waterford County Council from 1974-99. He took great pride in his election to the Seanad in 1983 where he served until 1987. He took a great interest in farming matters and was a devout member of the IFA. He made a great contribution to his local community in his work on the council and in the Seanad. To his wife, Carmel, and six children we extend the sympathy of Fine Gael at this difficult time.

  Mr. Ross: On behalf of the Independent group I wish to be associated with the messages of sympathy on the death of both former Members. I served in the House with Michael Queally who was a Senator par excellence. Michael did not contribute very often but he displayed great expertise on those matters on which he addressed the House. I wish to express our regret and sympathy to his wife and family on his untimely death.

  While I did not serve in the House with David Molony, I think the Cathaoirleach did. I knew him well because he was just elected to the Dáil when I joined the Seanad. Undoubtedly he was one of the brightest young Members at the time and was spoken of as a potential future leader of Fine Gael. I was regaled by stories when I became a Member about how he and the late Alexis Fitzgerald had, from the Fine Gael benches – the Opposition benches at the time – tied Ministers up in knots on legal matters over a long period regarding a great deal of legislation. He was a star in the making. He was a real star because he was not just a fly-by-night star, he was one who did all the work on the legislation. His departure from politics was a great shock to everybody. It is not often that people at the young age of less than 40, as he was in 1987, [22]decide to leave to politics. He was a great loss, not only to the party from which he departed, but to the State, the nation and the Dáil. We could have done with more like him. I regret very much his departure and his death and express our sympathy to his wife and family.

  Ms O'Meara: On behalf of the Labour Party, and on my own behalf, I extend our sympathy to Fine Gael and, especially, to the family of David Molony on their sad loss. The last time I met David Molony was at the election count in Nenagh in May when we discussed the outcome of the election and the future of politics in north Tipperary. None of us could have guessed that future political life in the country would be without the great intelligence and political insight of David Molony. It is with great sadness that we mark his passing.

  The wide range of political and legal representation, and the wider community present at his funeral in Thurles, was indicative of the high regard in which David Molony was held, as evidenced by the tributes today. He made a considerable contribution, not only to this House, but to the Dáil and to North Tipperary County Council during his tenure. As a solicitor in Thurles he provided an unparalleled service to those who sought representation. He was popular and well liked. It is a tragedy for his family, the town of Thurles and Fine Gael generally that he should be lost to them and all of us at such a young age. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Eve, and young sons, Conor and Patrick, and his extended family in north Tipperary.

  On behalf of the Labour Party group, I also pay tribute to the late former Senator Michael Queally who served in this House between 1983 and 1987 on the Agricultural Panel. I did not know him, but from what I have been told and the tributes that have been paid to him, I know he made a significant contribution to public life, not only in County Waterford, but also as a Member of this House. Our sympathy goes to his family.

  Mr. Dardis: On behalf of the Progressive Democrats, I wish to be associated with these expressions of sympathy. David Molony did an enormous amount in the course of his life and obviously still had a great deal to offer. It is a great tragedy for his family that he should die at such an early age, leaving behind two young sons. As his career has been well described by other Senators, I will not repeat what they said, but it is clear that he distinguished himself in every area of life in which he participated. When he was a student he won an award from the Incorporated Law Society. His political career was also very distinguished. As Senator Ross mentioned, the national newspapers decribed him as someone who had the potential to lead the Fine Gael Party, but he decided to retire from national poli[23]tics in 1987. To his family, his Fine Gael and legal colleagues, we extend our sympathy.

  I knew Michael Queally slightly. He came from a very distinguished farming family in County Waterford and, as stated, was a Senator between 1973 and 1987 and served his country and locality well. He will certainly be missed by his large family. To the families of both men, we extend our sympathy. May they both rest in peace.

  Mr. Coonan: Is mór an ocáid bróin dom rún comhbhróin a mholadh do bhean David Molony, Eve agus a bheirt mhac Conor agus Pádraig. Bhí néal mór ar Durlas Éile agus Contae Thiobraid Árainn nuair a chloiseamar an droch-nuacht.

  David Molony was a friend, colleague and mentor. During his time in this distinguished House and Dáil Éireann he represented the people of his native Thurles and County Tipperary and muintir na hÉireann uilig with conviction, courage and distinction. His gentle demeanour, independence and clarity of thought were attributes that endeared him to the hearts of the people of north Tipperary. As has been said, he was an excellent parliamentarian and always well briefed on his subject matter. His sharp intellect and keen sense of humour ensured he was an effective communicator who got his message heard and could fight every issue to the end. These attributes ensured David left his mark on Dáil Éireann as a courageous and outspoken legislator. He served on many parliamentary committees and was a member of the New Ireland Forum. He was generally regarded as conservative on economic matters but liberal on the social agenda, which he fought with a rare conviction that sometimes got him into difficulties with the Establishment.

  David was widely respected by his colleagues on all sides – party and non-party – and there is no doubt he is a huge loss to Fine Gael. One can only speculate as to what the north Tipperary, or national, political landscape might be today had he not decided on an early departure from Dáil Éireann to pursue his legal practice. It is certain, however, that his loyalty and commitment to the Fine Gael Party remained unflinching and steadfast. During the recent traumatic events experienced by Fine Gael in north Tipperary, while others walked away, David remained actively and proudly involved with the party and acted as an excellent director of elections for me in the recent election.

  David achieved much in his short life, but it was not all work and no play. As might be expected of a Thurles and County Tipperary native, he had a keen in interest in all sports, especially hurling. He was a former amateur jockey, had a great love of horseracing and was an owner and breeder up to his death. He was also a sailing enthusiast and a most gregarious individual who, as his wife Eve describes, loved to party. He will be missed by us all but not forgotten.

[24]  In the words of the poet, James Shirlie, “Only the actions of the just, smell sweet and blossom in their dust.” To his wife, Eve, sons, Conor and Patrick, brothers, sisters and extended family, we send our deepest sympathies. Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam uasal.

  Mr. Hanafin: I also wish to join in the expressions of sympathy on the death of David Molony. The great loss is to Eve, David's sons, Conor and Patrick, and his brothers and sisters. On North Tipperary County Council, in the Seanad and the Dáil, he served the people of Thurles, County Tipperary and Ireland well. He continued this service to the people, by choice, after he left Parliament to run a fine solicitor's practice in Thurles. The people of Thurles and his family will miss him dearly. I extend my sympathy to them.

  Mr. Cummins: I join in the tributes to my former constituency colleague, the late former Senator Michael Queally. He was a kind, decent and honourable gentleman. His interests lay mainly in the agriculture sector, a subject on which he spoke authoritatively inside and outside this House. He was a great lover of Gaelic games and could be seen most Sundays throughout the country, enjoying the sport. Michael served in this House from 1983 to 1987 with the same honour and distinction as he did in local politics. His fair-mindedness was recognised by all – political opponent as well as party colleagues. To his wife, Carmel, children and family, I offer my sincere sympathy.

  Ms Ormonde: I, too, wish to express my sympathy to the families of the late David Molony and Michael Queally. I did not know David Molony, but wish to be associated with the many tributes paid to him.

  I knew Michael Queally, not as a politician, but as a friend. His late mother and my late mother were best friends. He never discussed politics with my father when they were having their drinks – he was apolitical as far as I was concerned. Being from Kilmacthomas, I knew every member of the Queally family. I knew of his contribution as a person involved in every aspect of community life. He was not a Fine Gael person or a politician when he was doing his work which is the reason he had such respect in the local community. I am pleased to be associated with the many comments from his Fine Gael colleagues and wish to express my deep sympathy to his wife and family, brothers, Peter and John, and extended family members. His loss is greatly acknowledged in County Waterford and Kilmacthomas, in particular.

  Mr. Kenneally: I, too, wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy on the death of David Molony and Michael Queally. I did not know David Molony but knew of him and his [25]qualities. I understand he had great abilities, as is evidenced by what has been said.

  I knew Michael Queally very well. Despite the fact that we came from different political parties he was a person with whom I was very friendly. He was a most unassuming and helpful man and one whose company I always enjoyed. I met him on many a Saturday in his home village of Kill after I had finished my clinics. From time to time I bumped into him in the local pub and I always enjoyed my conversations with him. He was not slow to give me advice that was well meant. He was not a person who would try to put one over on someone. Michael was being as helpful as he could because, as has been said already, he was a man of great integrity and I always listened to what he said to me.

  Most people probably do not know about the many charitable works in which he was involved because he kept that very quiet. However, I am well aware of the tremendous work he did for so many people around his area, particularly after he left politics. He was always involved in charitable works but was not the type of person to make a song and dance about it. Michael will be missed by his local community, but more especially by his wife Carmel and by his family and to them I offer my deepest sympathy.

  An Cathaoirleach: I would also like to be associated with the expressions of sympathy extended to the families of David Molony and Michael Queally. I served in the House with David Molony from 1977 to 1981 and I knew him well. I also served with Mr. Queally. We were elected on the same panel in 1983 and I knew him well also. We developed a good friendship and met on several occasions since he departed this House, as was the case with Mr. Molony. I would like to be associated with the votes of sympathy. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anam dílis.

  Members rose.

  Sitting suspended at 1.25 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.