Brennan 'a peaceful, confident republican'


SÉAMUS BRENNAN was "a servant of the people" whose achievements were many and whose chief motivation was to advance the cause of Ireland and its citizens, Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the large attendance at the end of the funeral Mass for the former minister yesterday.

The Church of the Holy Cross in the Dublin suburb of Dundrum was packed to capacity over half an hour before the Mass began. In the course of an emotional ceremony, the congregation sang The West's Awake, a favourite of the Galway-born politician.

The former minister was "an admired friend and distinguished Irishman", the Taoiseach said. "I'm proud and honoured to have been asked to pay tribute to him. Séamus's contribution will live on in the life of the nation."

In his life, Mr Brennan had enjoyed the love of his family and the regard of friends. "His achievements were many and they were of enormous consequence."

The Taoiseach quoted the words of John F Kennedy on the poet Robert Frost: "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honours, the men it remembers."

Describing his late colleague as a "brilliant strategist" and a "reforming minister", Mr Cowen continued: "He put his shoulder to the national wheel at a time when it would have been easier to sit on the sideline. Seamus was a doer, a servant of the people."

His business was politics: "His overriding motivation was to advance the cause of Ireland and its people." He also had "an abiding love and loyalty" to Fianna Fáil.

Mr Cowen said that Séamus Brennan had "stiff competition at all levels both inside and outside the party" at election time, but "all calm was restored when the final count was over".

His contributions around the Cabinet table "were always well-noted". He was "a peaceful, highly-educated, confident republican".

At the end of his life, "he faced his illness with great dignity and stoic fortitude". He combined "common sense and uncommon courage".

"Duine flaithiúlach, cuirteiseach, fíor-chumasach ba ea Séamus Brennan [Séamus Brennan was a generous, courteous, highly-capable individual]," Mr Cowen added.

The main street of Dundrum was closed to traffic because of the crowd.

The Taoiseach and other political colleagues formed a guard of honour and accompanied the hearse on foot to the cemetery at the nearby St Nahi's Church, where Mr Brennan was laid to rest in a grave overlooking the Luas bridge, an achievement of which he was especially proud.

Along with Mr Brennan's wife, Ann, and other family members, the attendance included former taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Albert Reynolds; Tánaiste Mary Coughlan; Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan; Minister for the Environment and Green Party leader John Gormley; Minister for Health Mary Harney and other members of the Cabinet including Micheál Martin, Éamon Ó Cuív, Eamon Ryan, Mary Hanafin and Brendan Smith.

President Mary McAleese was represented by her aide-de-camp Capt Niamh O'Mahony, and others present included the Chief Justice, Mr Justice John Murray; Defence Forces chief of staff Lieut Gen Dermot Earley; former attorney general Rory Brady; Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore; Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter; former European commissioner Ray MacSharry; former government press secretary PJ Mara; former Government chief whip Tom Kitt and Fianna Fáil's general secretary, Sean Dorgan.

The congregation also included Church of Ireland rector, Canon Desmond Sinnamon; Ministers of State Barry Andrews, Conor Lenihan and Dick Roche; Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton; Progressive Democrats Senator Fiona O'Malley; former ministers Bobby Molloy, Michael Woods, Brendan Daly and Nora Owen; secretary general at the Department of the Taoiseach, Dermot McCarthy; secretary general at the Department of Transport, Julie O'Neill; Labour TD Pat Rabbitte; Fianna Fáil TDs Áine Brady, Noel Treacy, Séamus Kirke, Charlie O'Connor and Michael Kennedy; Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White; Fianna Fáil MEPs Eoin Ryan and Sean Ó Neachtain; Fine Gael Senator Eugene Regan; Fianna Fáil activists Seán Sherwin, Chris Wall and Des Richardson; former ceann comhairle of the Dáil, Rory O'Hanlon, and businessman Brian Geoghegan.

The chief celebrant of the funeral Mass, Rev Prof Enda McDonagh, said it was "an occasion for lamentation but also for celebration". Although he had died before his time, "Séamus's years were filled with love and energy and care and service to his family and to his country."

Noting that one of Mr Brennan's daughters was expecting a child shortly, he said: "The cycle is not life and death; the cycle is life, death, life." In his career, the former minister had carried the challenge of restoring "the sense of patriotism, civic duty, above all, public service" to Irish life.

Politics was one of the highest forms of public service. "We are here for the good of others," Fr McDonagh said, adding: "It's that kind of legacy we need to cherish in the name of Séamus Brennan."