Sunday 18 March 2018

Mourners pay tribute to exceptional minister

Sam Smyth

A RARE gathering of luminaries from all walks of public life joined the family of Professor James Dooge yesterday to say farewell to the former senator and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Prof Dooge's long and remarkable life was celebrated with wry humour and fond memories at his funeral Mass at St John the Baptist Church in Blackrock, Co Dublin, yesterday.

Former Taoisigh, former government ministers, serving politicians, leading figures from academia and judges of the superior courts remembered a truly exceptional man.

The Dooge family seemed genuinely surprised at the big turnout at the church that followed a private wake in the family home in Monkstown.

Prof Dooge (88) died suddenly at his home on Friday and he is survived by four children, 10 grandchildren and his great-grandson.

Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Dr Maurice Manning, described Prof Dooge as "a public intellectual, without posture, who dedicated his life to public service".

In an eloquent homily, Dr Manning reminded the congregation of his old friend's many qualities, including his enormous contribution to education.

"He was president of the Royal Irish Academy but he didn't join, you have to be invited to join," said Dr Manning, who is an historian and former TD and senator.

The Dooge Report on a framework for institutional reform in the EU is still regarded as a hugely significant work and it came out of a committee he chaired in 1984.

He was a cousin of Dr Garret FitzGerald with whom he was deeply involved in the Just Society group in Fine Gael.


Prof Dooge's career in public life began in 1948 when he was elected to Dublin City Council. A brilliant engineer and a gifted academic, he also showed apparently unlimited potential as a politician. In fact, Prof Dooge was something of a renaissance man and his influence in politics, engineering and education was enormous.

Dr FitzGerald appointed Prof Dooge Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1981 after making him a senator for helping to negotiate a coalition with the Labour Party.

Former Fine Gael Taoisigh Liam Cosgrave and Dr FitzGerald acknowledged his mighty efforts for their party and this country yesterday.

Mass was celebrated by Fr Padraig McCarthy with Bishop Jim Moriarty, the PP Fr Edward Conway and Fr Michael Collins.

Former EU commissioner Richard Burke and other TDs he served with, Nora Owen, Barry Desmond and Niamh Bhreathnach, were in the congregation.

The Cathoirleach of the Senate, Pat Moylan, Senators Paul Coughlan and Eugene Regan attended with the clerk of the Senate Deirdre lane.

The President and the Taoiseach were represented and musician Philip King travelled from Kerry for the occasion.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News