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Monday 20 January 2020

'Integrity, personal warmth, humility and intelligence' - Tributes paid at funeral of Progressive Democrats founder Bobby Molloy

Bobby Molloy – then Junior Environment Minister – launches a road safety campaign in 1999.
Photo: Steve Humphreys
Bobby Molloy – then Junior Environment Minister – launches a road safety campaign in 1999. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Former Progressive Democrats leaders Dessie O'Malley, Mary Harney and Micheal McDowell were amongst those who gathered to say a final farewell to party founder, Bobby Molloy.

He was recalled at the funeral at Galway cathedral today by Chief Celebrant Fr Gerry Jennings as a man of "integrity, personal warmth, humility and intelligence".

Everyone knew him as "Bobby" - except for his family, he remarked, to whom he was always "Robbie."

His daughter Sinead spoke in tribute to her father before the funeral mass began.

He had passionately loved sports, she said, and there was laughter as she quipped that his proudest moment came as a teenager when he received a letter simply addressed: Robert Molloy, athlete, Galway."

He had represented his constituency of Galway West for 37 years but could not have achieved what he did throughout his career but for the support and loyalty he had received from his colleagues, Sinead said.

She revealed that her father had battled Alzheimer's in latter years - but the family was blessed that he knew them right up until the end when he passed away on Sunday morning.

She thanked the team at Galway hospice for helping them to keep her father at home in the last 10 days of his life.

"While we are sad he is leaving us, we rejoice in his life," she concluded.

President Michael D Higgins was represented at the requiem mass by his Aide de Camp, Col Michael Kiernan, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his Aide de Camp,

Mr Molloy (80), who served as mayor of Galway from July, 1968 to June, 1969, died peacefully at his home in Salthill last weekend after a long illness.

He is survived by his wife Phyllis, children Sinéad, Sorcha, Daragh and Donncha, and extended family and friends.

His coffin was draped in the Irish flag for the funeral which saw large crowds of mourners come to pay their respects.

Amongst them were many political figures, with Michéal Martin in attendance, together with former PD member Noel Grealish (FF) of Mr Molloy's Galway West constituency and former TD Ned O'Keeffe and Taoiseach ADC Comdt Kieran Carey.

The Irish flag over Leinster House flew at half mast as a mark of respect, as did the tricolour at the Galway docks.

Mr Molloy's fondness for all things maritime was symbolised at the funeral mass by a white wreath of flowers in the shape of an anchor.

After the mass his funeral cortege was led through the city by members of the city council who had attended the funeral in their robes, since Mr Molloy served as Mayor of the city from July 1968 to June 1969.

He was laid to rest in the New Cemetery in Bohermore.

Noted for his candour and blunt way of speaking, Mr Molloy was one of the longest serving politicians in the Galway West constituency.

The former Fianna Fáil politician held the posts of defence, local government and energy and was a founder of the PDs.

He served as TD from 1965 until his resignation in 2002 and was a prominent member of the so-called “Club of 22,” Dáil deputies who voted against Haughey in a leadership challenge.

In later years he would talk about the acrimony and division of the Haughey era.

In early 1986 he surprised many by leaving Fianna Fáil to help found the PDs with Des O’Malley and Mary Harney.

The party promoted a low-tax liberal economy and a number of radical measures to help end recession and economic paralysis.

 It enjoyed an impressive début at the 1987 general election, winning 14 seats in Dáil Éireann, briefly becoming capturing almost 12 percent of the popular vote - but never again won more than 10 seats in an election though inJune 1989, Mr Molloy was one of the PD negotiators in a coalition with Fianna Fáil under their old enemy, Haughey.

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