'She knew she was not on her own in her fight' - TD Nicky McFadden laid to rest
An emotional Taoiseach told friends and family of Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden, "We have lost a beautiful woman with a beautiful mind and a beautiful heart".
Mr Kenny was speaking at the graveside of the 51-year old Longford-Westmeath deputy who lost her battle with motor neurone disease on Tuesday.
Fighting back the tears, he said, "Many of us here feel bereft at her leaving us, as a colleague, as a friend, as a neighbour, as a member of the Fine Gael party who served her constituents with dignity, with integrity, with care and with consideration".
The world of politics united today to bid farewell to Nicky McFadden. President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and many members of the Dail and Seanad attended the funeral mass this afternoon.
About 1000 people packed into the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Coosan, Athlone for the Requiem Mass say a final goodbye to a woman described by her daughter Caren as "vivacious, generous, glamorous, selfless and wise." Caren McFadden was among the chief mourners, along with Nicky's son Eoin, sisters Gab and Aine, brother in law Brian and granddaughter Matilda.
In his homily, chief celebant Fr Declan Shannon told the congregation how Nicky had fought the disease since her diagnosis "with all the determination and fight she could muster. Determined that Motor Neurone wasn’t going to define her, Nicky fought it with every fibre of her being but slowly accepted the gradual limitations it brought. Surrounded by the great love of family and the loyal support of good friends, Nicky knew she was not on her own and neither was she," he said.
Fr Shannon spoke also of how her family recalled Nicky as someone who saw the world through rose tinted glasses and who "was ever the optimist and could always see the good in others, even when the rest of the world seemed to have stopped trying". He added: "even in her sickness, Nicky has left behind some incredible and precious memories".
Several items representing her life were brought to the altar, including a photo album, a high-heeled shoe, a flip-flop and a parchment from Athlone Institute of Technology, from where she graduated with a Diploma in Legal Studies.
The Longford-Westmeath TD began her political life when she was co-opted to Westmeath County Council on the retirement of her father, Brendan McFadden in 2003. She was was a member of Athlone Town Council from 2009 and a member of the Seanad from 2007 to 2011 before fulfilling her long ambition of winning a seat in the Dail in 2011.
Among her colleagues and friends from Leinster House who travelled to pay a final farewell were Justice Minister Alan Shatter, Health Minister James Shatter, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald, Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett and government chief whip, Paul Kehoe. Also junior ministers Brian Hayes, Paschal Donohoe, Michael Ring, Ciaran Cannon, John Perry, Tom Hayes, along with Fine Gael TDs Aine Collins, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Regina Doherty, Olivia Mitchell, John Paul Phelan, Patrick O'Donovan, Derek Keating, and senators Paul Coghlan, Imelda Henry and Fidelma Healy-Eames, also present were Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and TD Barry Cowen.
After the Requiem Mass, her Fine Gael colleagues walked in a guard-of-honour to the Coosan cemetery where she was laid to rest in a grave alongside her mother Kitty who died in 1993 and her father Brendan who died last year.