Tuesday 17 September 2019

Former minister leaves lasting legacy to nation

'He was a decent man who just got on with the job,' Martina Devlin on the late Seamus Brennan, who passed away on Tuesday.
'He was a decent man who just got on with the job,' Martina Devlin on the late Seamus Brennan, who passed away on Tuesday.
The then Education Minister arriving at Leinster House in 1992
With his wife Ann and children at the Dublin South count centre in Ballinteer at last year's general election when he was elected on the first count with 13,373 votes, a surplus of 3,173
Seamus Brennan, who died yesterday, pictured outside Leinster House three months ago

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

President Mary McAleese led the tributes to former minister Seamus Brennan, saying he played a major role in the building of the modern Ireland.

The President said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of his untimely passing and his achievements and contribution will leave a lasting mark on our country.

"His many talents were such that he could have been successful in several fields, yet it was a mark of the man that he chose to devote those gifts to public service and the public good," she said.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Ann, and his family at this very difficult time -- to them I extend my deepest sympathies," she added.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said Seamus Brennan made a massive contribution to our country.

"For almost 35 years, he was at the frontline of Irish politics, and in that period he served our nation and the Fianna Fail party with great distinction.

"Seamus Brennan will be remembered as a brilliant political strategist, a dedicated constituency TD, a reforming minister and a very popular colleague," he said.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said Mr Brennan was "a good colleague and a long-standing and close friend".

Outstanding

"I am deeply grateful for Seamus' unwavering support for me during my tenure as leader of Fianna Fail and as Taoiseach. As chief whip, he did an outstanding job in my first government," he said.

But Mr Ahern denied he "shafted" Mr Brennan when he moved him from the Department of Transport into the Department of Social Welfare in 2004.

"Seamus Brennan was not moved out of transport, Seamus was more than happy to move into a department that had a budget of €14bn. The idea that he was shafted out of transport is just not true," he said.

Mr Brennan was interested in the European Commission role in 2004, but Charlie McCreevy took up the role, Mr Ahern said.

Fianna Fail general secretary Sean Dorgan said Mr Brennan will be missed deeply by the party organisation, where there was a deep sense of loss.

"To this day people still talk about his days as general secretary. In many ways, he modernised our party and changed how we approach elections," he said.

Mr Brennan's long-time constituency colleague, Tom Kitt, said he was "an accomplished public representative, greatly respected and loved by his constituents".

"Seamus and I represented Fianna Fail in Dublin South at local and national level for almost 30 years, where we were part and parcel of each other's daily lives," he said.

Crisis

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Mr Brennan brought a deep human understanding to all aspects of politics. "He could always be relied upon to respond in a calm and measured way to any crisis," he said.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said Mr Brennan served with distinction in a wide range of portfolios at both senior and junior minister level.

"All those in the Labour Party who dealt with Seamus Brennan found him to be a man of exceptional courtesy," he said.

Green Party leader John Gormley said Mr Brennan played "the pivotal role" in the formation of this Government.

"I got to know him very well when I was a whip in the opposition. That established a relationship. It has been rightly said that he played an important role in the formation of this Government," he said.

Health Minister Mary Harney said she and Mr Brennan entered Irish politics together at the encouragement of a great mentor, Jack Lynch.

"He stayed true to Jack Lynch's vision of an enterprising, peaceful Ireland throughout his long career," she said.

Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke said she first knew him because his wife, Ann O'Shaughnessy, was from Athlone.

"They met in Galway University where both of them were students. She was studying law, she later qualified as a solicitor, and he was studying commerce. I remember her mother telling me, 'Ann has met a lovely young man in Galway University'. God rest him a lovely man," she said.

The funeral arrangements are as follows: reposing at Flanagan's Funeral Home, Dundrum, from 4pm today; removal to Holy Cross Church, Dundrum, arriving at 7pm; funeral Mass tomorrow at 12 noon.

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