Monday 11 December 2017

Pat Joe Reynolds

FORMER TD and senator Pat Joe Reynolds was a successful businessman as well as politician. Pat Joe Reynolds, of Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, who has died aged 83, represented Fine Gael at local and national levels for over 40 years. He continued a tradition initiated by his father Paddy Reynolds, who was a Cumann na Gael TD from 1927 until he was assassinated in 1932.

Paddy's widow Mary, who had been left with a young family, shared her husband's loyalty to the infant State and was elected to the Dail.

Pat Joe, the eldest son, made an early entry into politics. He was elected to Leitrim County Council in 1943 and remained a member continuously until 1985, serving as chairman from 1967 to 1979.

He was well qualified when he succeeded his mother in 1961 as Dail Deputy for Roscommon/Leitrim. He retained his seat in the 1965 election but lost it in 1969, one of several Fine Gael deputies to lose out to Jack Lynch's Fianna Fail. The lack of an alternative to Fianna Fail was rectified in 1973 by the Fine Gael/Labour joint platform. Pat Joe Reynolds was reelected to become an influential member of an unwavering cohort of backbenchers, both Fine Gael and Labour, who loyally supported the Government through the difficulties of the oil crisis and the Troubles in the North. Pat Joe's constituency was in the front line but he never flinched in his support for the Government's policy of total opposition to the Provisionals. Towards the end of his administration, Pat Joe served briefly but successfully as Parliamentary Secretary in the Department of Local Government.

Like many of his colleagues, he was a victim of the Fianna Fail manifesto of 1977. However, he was elected to Seanad Eireann and remained a member until 1987, when he retired from politics after 44 years of service.

He was Cathaoirleach of the Seanad from 1983 to 1987. His wide and long political experience stood him in great stead and the door of his office was always open. His hospitality was legendary.

Pat Joe Reynolds was an independent-minded man who was always uneasy with the clientalism of constituency politics. He preferred blunt honesty to the soft word of an unattainable promise. This trait didn't always endear him to his constituents. He knew this but wasn't prepared to pay a false price for support. His political peers, however, recognised his integrity and rewarded it by successively electing him to the Seanad.

Pat Joe Reynolds was also a very successful businessman. He transformed the hardware business which he had inherited from his father into one of the largest builders' suppliers and hardware merchants in the north west.

Pat Joe Reynolds is survived by his wife, Tess, and his children Gerard, Ita, Regina and Peter.

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