Ex-Fine Gael TD Monica Barnes ‘open and optimistic’, funeral hears

Former Senator and TD had intended campaigning for repeal of Eight Amendment

Bob Barnes, with family members at the funeral of his wife former TD, Senator and member of the Council of State, Monica Barnes. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Bob Barnes, with family members at the funeral of his wife former TD, Senator and member of the Council of State, Monica Barnes. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Former Fine Gael senator and TD Monica Barnes was described as “open and optimistic’’ by her daughter, Sarah, at her funeral in Killiney, Co Dublin.

Sarah Barnes spoke on Tuesday of growing up in a household where her feminist mother was a political and social activist, marching in many marches and becoming familiar with the outsides of embassies.

“It was fun and it was different,’’ she said.

Ms Barnes died unexpectedly on Tuesday last week, aged 82 years. Although she retired from the Dáil in 2002, she retained her interest in social causes and intended campaigning for the repeal of the Eight Amendment to the Constitution in the abortion referendum.

Sarah Barnes said her mother had said, towards the end of her life, she would “categorically’’ do it all again.

“She had a fantastic life,’’ she added.

TDs Brendan Howlin, Monica Barnes and Alan Shatter at a hearing of the sub-committee on the Abbeylara incident, at Kildare House, Dublin, in April 2001. File photograph: Eric Luke
TDs Brendan Howlin, Monica Barnes and Alan Shatter at a hearing of the sub-committee on the Abbeylara incident, at Kildare House, Dublin, in April 2001. File photograph: Eric Luke

She spoke of how her mother had passed away quietly in her favourite part of the house, the conservatory.

She said she believed that her brother, Paul, who had predeceased Ms Barnes, had come for his mother.

She said she was grateful there was no lingering with pain on her mother’s part.

The Mass was celebrated in the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Churchview Road, by Fr John Sinnot PP. The soloist was Joanne Harding and the organist Tom Kehoe.

Nora Owen and Mary Bannotti, at the funeral of Monica Barnes. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Nora Owen and Mary Bannotti, at the funeral of Monica Barnes. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Symbols of her life brought to the altar included a selection of books from poets Patrick Kavanagh and Seamus Heaney and novelist John McGahern.

There were also a globe which was presented to her in 1992 by the Global Forum of Women, a Nealon’s Guide to the 24th Dáil and Seanad and a book of crosswords which she recently completed.

Mourners

President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, led the mourners, who also included Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Minister of State for Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was represented by his aide-de-camp Comdt Caroline Burke.

The attendance also included Fine Gael TDs Kate O’Connell, Marie Bailey, Fergus O’Dowd, Frances Fitzgerald, and Senator Neale Richmond.

Former ministers Sean Barrett, Barry Desmond and Niamh Bhreathnach, who represented the Dun Laoghaire constituency with Ms Barnes, were also there, as were former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes, and former party colleagues in the Dáil, Nora Owen, Averil Doyle, Alan Shatter, Mary Flaherty, Olivia Mitchell and Tom Hayes.

President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins with Eamon Gilmore, former Tanaiste at the funeral of former TD, Senator and member of the Council of State, Monica Barnes at Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Killiney Co Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins with Eamon Gilmore, former tánaiste. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Green Party TD Catherine Martin, Independent Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell, former Labour minister Eithne Fitzgerald, academic and former Labour TD John Horgan, and Helen Keogh, who represented Dun Laoghaire for the now defunct Progressive Democrats, were present.

The attendance also included the theologian Gina Menzies and the former RTÉ journalists Una Claffey and Linda Sherlock.

The chief mourners were her husband, Bob, daughters Sarah and Joanne, sister Angela and brother Colm, grandchildren and extended family.

Ms Barnes’s remains were taken from the church, to the strains of the recessional hymn, In the Arms of an Angel, and later cremated at Mount Jerome crematorium.