I am saddened to learn of the death of Pádraig Faulkner.
Pádraig was a stalwart of the Fianna Fáil Party who gave a lifetime of commitment to our party.
He was a proud Louth man and a great gentleman of Irish politics. In his time, Pádraig Faulkner made a massive contribution to his constituency and our country.
Pádraig was a man of decency, of good humour and of integrity. He was a politician of great intelligence, ability and dedication. He held the distinction of serving in the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party under the first four leaders of our party.
Pádraig was first elected to Dáil Éireann in de Valera’s last general Election in 1957. Together with the legendary Frank Aiken and Senator Joe Farrell, Pádraig formed part of a very distinguished and capable Fianna Fáil team in the constituency that gave unrivalled service to the people of Louth.
It was Seán Lemass who first promoted Pádraig and set him on train for a long and distinguished Ministerial career. Pádraig had a life-long love of the Irish language and Lemass, recognizing this, appointed Pádraig Parliamentary Secretary for the Gaeltacht in 1965.
In 1968, Pádraig was first appointed to the cabinet table by Jack Lynch. He first served as Minister for Lands. Under Jack Lynch’s leadership, he later served as Minister for Education, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and Minister for Tourism and Transport. In Charles Haughey’s first Government, Padraig served as Minister for Defence.
As a long-serving and efficient Minister, Pádraig Faulkner made an undoubted contribution to the social and economic development of Ireland in the second half of the twentieth century.
He was a passionate minister for education who placed an emphasis on delivering more teachers and providing better school transport. He also made the particularly far-sighted decision to proceed with the DART network which has immensely benefitted our capital city for nearly three decades.
The respect that Pádraig Faulkner was held in across all shades of political opinion in Leinster House was evident from his election as Ceann Comhairle in 1980. This was a job he performed with decorum and impartiality.
Following his retirement, Pádraig remained active in his local Fianna Fáil organisation and it was always a pleasure to see him at party events where he was quick to offer an encouraging word and a broad smile.
He wrote a fantastic memoir of his time in politics which is indispensable to anyone wishing to understand the history of Fianna Fáil and modern Ireland, particularly in the Lemass and Lynch eras.
Pádraig Faulkner was a shining example of all that is good in public service. He was will be sadly missed by his many friends and admirers.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dhílis