Political and family life of late Austin Deasy recalled
Fine Gael minister described as politician who delivered for his Waterford constituents
John Deacy TD and his brother, Jamie, lead their father’s coffin into St Mary’s Church in Dungarvan. Photograph: Mary Browne
His brother, Fr Billy Deasy, told mourners at the service held in St Mary’s Church in Dungarvan on Monday his late brother, who died at University Hospital Waterford on Saturday, had a family life and a political life but they were here to celebrate his life in its entirety.
“He was intransigent – that does not mean he was always nice. He was just a yes or no man but he did listen and he did do as his political run shows us,” said Fr Deasy who brought smiles to the faces of mourners when he said, contrary to what many thought, he was not his brother’s twin but his older sibling.
He also prompted chuckles when he revealed he had “never voted for Austin Deasy but you should not get the wrong idea when I say that – I was never in Ireland for an election as my Augustinian superiors had me scattered around the world.”
Leading the mourners were the late Mr Deasy’s widow, Kathleen, and the couple’s adult children, Sally, Jane, Jamie and current Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy, who succeeded his father when he retired from politics in 2002, and the late Mr Deasy’s siblings, Fr Billy, Joe, Pat and June.
Fr Deasy recalled that his late brother had been born in Dungarvan in 1936 and said seeing many familiar faces at Kiely’s Funeral Home was like watching “a history of old Dungarvan”.
On behalf of the family Fr Deasy thanked the many mourners who had rearranged their schedules and travelled long distances to attend the funeral.
President Michael D Higgins was represented at the funeral by his aide-de camp, Captain Eoin Rochford while the Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his aide-de-camp, Comdt Stephen Molumphy and their presence was appreciated, said Fr Deasy.
Among the politicians paying their respects were Fine Gael leader and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, Minister for Education Richard Bruton and Minister Health Simon Harris.
Other figures in attendance were Ministers of State Andrew Doyle, Eoghan Murphy, Paul Kehoe and Pat Breen as well as chairman of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, Martin Hayden and Fine Gael General Secretary Tom Curran.
Among the Fine Gael TDs to attend were Jim Daly from West Cork, Michael D’Arcy from Wexford, Damian English from Meath, John Paul Phelan from Kilkenny, Pat Deering from Carlow as well as Senator Tim Lombard from Cork.
Former Fine Gael leader, Alan Dukes, former Minister for Justice, Paddy Cooney, former IFA president and Fine Gael MEP, Alan Gills and former TDs, Tom Hayes from Tipperary, Gerry Reynolds from Leitrim and Louis Belton from Longford also came to offer their sympathies.
Also paying their respects was Minister of State and local Waterford TD, John Halligan, Waterford Fianna Fáil TD, Mary Butler and Waterford Senators, Paudie Coffey of Fine Gael and Grace O’Sullivan from the Green Party.
Others to pay their respects were former Waterford TDs, Fianna Fáil’s Brendan Kenneally and Labour’s Brian O’Shea as well as chef Paul Flynn from the Tannery, horse trainer Pat Flynn, Des Whelan, MD of WLR, Kieran Walsh, editor of the Munster Express and Supt Mick Leacy of Dungarvan.
There was a poignant moment when many in the congregation joined in with soprano, Muriel Keohan as she sang Dungarvan, My Home Town as the late Mr Deasy’s coffin was carried from the church for burial in the adjoining cemetery.