Former TD was 'synonymous with Fine Gael in Leitrim'

Sat, Jan 3, 2004, 00:00

PAT JOE REYNOLDS: Pat Joe Reynolds, who has died aged 83, was a former Fine Gael member of Dáil Éireann and served as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad for four years. Both his parents had been members of the Oireachtas.

Paying tribute to the Reynolds' family's 75 years of public service, the Fine Gael leader, Mr Enda Kenny, last week said, "Pat Joe represented his people fearlessly at all times."

Former journalist and TD Ted Nealon paid tribute to his work in developing the local party organisation. "He was synonymous with Fine Gael in Leitrim," he said.

He was born on November 26th, 1920, in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, one of the seven children of Patrick Reynolds and his wife, Mary (née Smyth).

His education was cut short when a former RIC man named Leddy assassinated his father, who had been elected as a Cumann na nGaedheal TD in 1927, on St Valentine's Day, 1932. He was taken out of school to help with the family business, and over the years he established himself as a successful general merchant and publican.

His mother, meanwhile, was elected to the Dáil and represented Sligo-Leitrim until 1961.

First elected to Leitrim County Council in 1943, he was a councillor for more than 40 years. He was elected to the Dáil to represent Roscommon-Leitrim in 1961. Re-elected in 1965, he lost his seat in 1969. He returned to the Dáil in 1973 when he took a vital second seat for Fine Gael, thus facilitating the first change of government for 16 years.

During the Fine Gael-Labour Party government's term of office, he served as parliamentary secretary to both the Minister for Local Government and Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. In the face of growing political violence throughout Ireland, he strongly supported the government's security policy and identified closely with the then Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, and the Minister for Justice, Patrick Cooney.

In opposition, he served as a member of the Fine Gael front bench, acting as party spokesman on health, local government and industry and commerce. In the latter capacity he championed the cause of small businesses. Elected to the Seanad in 1977, he served as Cathaoirleach from 1983 to 1987, when he retired from public life. His son Gerry was a member of the Dáil and Seanad from 1989 until 2002.

As a member of Leitrim County Council, he took a particular interest in rural electrification and promoted group water schemes. He was the longest-serving chairman of the council, holding the position for 12 years.

An avid GAA supporter, he took great delight in Leitrim's emergence as Connacht football champions in 1994.

His wife, Tess, sons, Gerry and Peter, and daughters, Ita and Regina, survive him.

Pat Joe Reynolds: born November 26th, 1920; died December 28th, 2003.