Brussels-bound Mick Wallace becomes emotional in last address to Dáil
TDs, Senator say their farewells to Leinster House on last day in Oireachtas
Independent Wexford TD Mick Wallace became emotional in his last address to the Dáil before he starts his new political role next week as an MEP.
He is one of four TDs as well as Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan elected to the European Parliament, three of whom were in the chamber and made some final remarks to their colleagues before joining the new European Parliament which starts next Tuesday.
Leas Cheann Comhairle Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher diverted from normal protocols to allow the departing TDs address the House. He paid tribute to them and absent outgoing TD Clare Daly and said “you will all be carrying different political flags from the left to the right but you will represent Ireland and you will wear the Irish jersey” in Europe.
Mr Gallagher who previously served as an MEP and a TD before that suggested that “the door will always be open” for them to come back as TDs but “it will be a hard door to open”.
Mr Wallace had been expressing his thanks to two HSE employees Caitríona Lawlor and Conor Sugrue.
He had briefly paused in his speech but became emotional when he said he had been “pretty critical” of the HSE in his time in the Dáil but both the HSE employees he named “have done some very good work for someone very close to me”.
Earlier he said it was “going to be very challenging and difficult to make a difference” in the European Parliament but he was not afraid of hard work. And he would “try and rescue Europe from the hands of large corporations and the whole neo-liberal philosophy. And I see that as something the people who elected me want me to do”.
He described his time in the Dáil as amazing and very frustrating in equal measure.
“I’ve probably been pretty merciless with a lot of Ministers over there but I like to think my criticism was never personal and I always respected the person I was taking lumps off.”
Former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald described her time in Leinster House as “challenging, interesting and worthwhile”.
She said that from the first day she arrived in the Dáil (1992), she had a sense of the “fantastic privilege it was to be allowed to serve. It is a huge honour to have been elected to serve as a TD, Senator and as a minister and to bring forward very important legislation and to serve as Tánaiste.
‘Pay tribute to yourself’
Outgoing Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher quipped that it was “nice to be able to pay tribute to yourself” and “nice to leave the House on your own terms”. He said it had been a huge honour to have served as a TD since 1993 when he came in aged 24.
He said that his time in Leinster House had been “hugely enjoyable, filled with honour and privilege”. He hoped to serve in the European Parliament “with dignity” and he thanked the voters of Cork North-Central. “I had the privilege and honour to represent them and I hope I never took that privilege and honour for granted.”
In the Seanad Senator Grace O’Sullivan said that her first foray into politics was the 2014 European election and she built up resilience and experience from that for election to the Seanad, in 2016. She said she was now “going to the place where I feel I will work most effectively, namely, the European Parliament”.