Death of Senator Kieran Phelan


The Seanad was suspended today following the death of Fianna Fáil Senator Kieran Phelan at the age of 60.

The father of five suffered a suspected heart attack in a Dublin city centre hotel as he prepared to go to the Seanad today.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen paid tribute to Mr Phelan, who was first elected to the Seanad for the Laois-Offaly constituency in 2002 on the Industrial and Commercial Panel. He was re-elected in 2007.

Mr Cowen said Mr Phelan left behind "a legacy of hard work and a strong committment to public service".

"Kieran is a well known, much admired and greatly respected member of Seanad Éireann. He is a constituency colleague of mine and a lifelong friend. I will miss him deeply," said Mr Cowen.

"Kieran Phelan was an unassuming gentleman. He was kind, he was easy-going, he was dependable and he was loyal to his friends. He had a real ability to relate to people and had a keen political sense. He had a strong sense of humour and a strong work ethic," he added.

Mr Cowen extended his deepest sympathies to Mr Phelan’s family.

Fine Gael Seanad leader, Senator Frances Fitzgerald, expressed her deep shock and sadness at the sudden death of Mr Phelan.

"Only yesterday, I sat at a meeting which Kieran attended. He was his usual jovial self. Jovial, kind, friendly, warm are key words which come to mind for me when I think of Kieran. You could always be sure of a friendly smile or an encouraging word when you passed him in the corridor or met him around the building," said Ms Fitzgerald.

"Kieran’s passing will be felt by all those who he interacted with in politics, to his friends, his colleagues in Fianna Fáil, his staff and his supporters. I offer our sincere condolences on behalf of the Fine Gael Party," she added.

Green Party leader John Gormley paid tribute to Senator Phelan who he described as "a very popular colleague with members of all parties."

Mr Gormley's party colleague, Dan Boyle, who is the deputy leader of the Seanad, also expressed his sympathy with the family of Senator Phelan and his Fianna Fáil colleagues.

Independent TD Finian McGrath said the whole Dáil and Seanad are devastated by the sudden death.

“He was extremely popular around the house and loved by all parties and Independents,” said Mr McGrath. “He was warm, friendly and a very decent man. Once again my deepest sympathy to his wife, Mary and their children, family and friends.”

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty also expressed his condolences on the death of Senator Kieran Phelan this morning.

“Kieran’s death has come as a great shock to everybody here in the Seanad today. My thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends at this sad time,” he said.

Mr Phelan was elected to Laois County Council in 1991 as a councillor for Borris-in-Ossory and first stood for the Seanad in 1997. He was the Government's spokesman on defence in the Seanad at the time of his death.

He is survived by his wife Mary and their five children Fiona, Martina, Brenda, Aisling and Patrick.