History will favour ‘warrior’ Michael Noonan, Taoiseach says

Varadkar says former FG leader helped to restore Ireland’s ‘self-respect and pride’

Childrens Grief Centre founder Sr Helen Culhane was named Limerick Person of the Year 2017. She is pictured with former minister for finance Michael Noonan, who was given a lifetime achievement award. Photograph: Oisin McHugh/True Media.

Childrens Grief Centre founder Sr Helen Culhane was named Limerick Person of the Year 2017. She is pictured with former minister for finance Michael Noonan, who was given a lifetime achievement award. Photograph: Oisin McHugh/True Media.

 

History will record Michael Noonan as “one of the best ministers for finance this State has ever had”, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Noonan was honoured in Limerick on Thursday with a lifetime achievement award and, in a video tribute, Mr Varadkar said the former Fine Gael leader had “helped restore our economic sovereignty” and “our self-respect and pride”.

“It was a remarkable achievement,” he said in the video which was played at the Limerick Person of the Year Awards.

Citing rugby player Johnny Sexton’s late dropgoal in Ireland’s recent victory over France in the Six Nations, Mr Varadkar said Mr Noonan was also a “warrior” and a “champion” for Ireland.

“When when this country faced its darkest times — a recession that threatened the very fabric of the State — Michael gave leadership direction and vision,” he said. “A couple of years ago when Michael visited Brussels with a black eye after surgery, he jokingly compared himself to Johnny Sexton — it’s a fair comparison.”

‘I got a lot done’

Mr Noonan said being honoured in his native city was an “emotional” occasion.

“I got a lot done, thank god. But the way I look at it, in politics, you’re elected to do things,” he said.

The Limerick City TD said the Government’s new development plan would bring further benefits in education and health.

He cited a need for extra beds at University Hospital Limerick and a Cork-Limerick motorway.

He said the solution to the housing crisis was to deregulate the market, and to build more houses. “Rent will follow the market, and if there are a lot of people working and they’re looking for a place to stay they will drive rents.”

Mr Noonan, who stepped down as minister for finance when Mr Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as Taoiseach last year, has confirmed he will not contest the next general election.

Asked about his plans for the future, he said: “I’d love to see Limerick win the hurling All Ireland. I’ll get up to some devilment and enjoy myself.”

Sr Helen Culhane, founder of the Children’s Grief Centre, was named Limerick Person of the Year, for her inspiring work helping children affected by loss through death, separation or divorce.

The late Limerick musician and The Cranberries frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan was also remembered at the awards ceremony. A version of her song When You’re Gone was performed by local singer songwriter Emma Langford.