The late Ted Nealon had a "unique political brain of enormous capacity", Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil. In a tribute to the former Fine Gael TD and minister of state, Mr Kenny said Mr Nealon had an exceptional career in politics and journalism. He died in January, aged 84.
“In every role he gave of his best, not alone as an exemplary public servant, but as an exemplary, compassionate and dignified human being,” Mr Kenny said. “In every interaction, he recognised the other person’s humanity and dignity, which explains why when Ted’s passing was announced it was met with such personal sadness and fond affection in the former constituency of Sligo-Leitrim.’’
On behalf of the Labour Party, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said Mr Nealon had carved that rare path from prominent current affairs journalist and broadcaster to minister of state.
Mr Howlin recalled that he was editor and founder of Nealon’s Guide to the Dáil and Seanad. “It was one of the most important works in introducing the innate love most Irish people have of the political systems here and giving us the factsheet to work on,” Mr Howlin added.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Mr Nealon was a "ground-breaking person in terms of media and politics''. He himself could trace his real engagement with politics to RTÉ 7 Days TV programme, on which Mr Nealon had worked as a journalist.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said people like Ted Nealon and Brian Farrell had modernised people's understanding of politics, particularly in their detailed approach and the encyclopaedic knowledge they had. "His work as a journalist obviously empowered him and gave him particular insights as to how he would function as a deputy," Mr Adams added.
Independent TD Shane Ross, on behalf of the technical group, said Mr Nealon had starred in RTÉ’s general election programme of 1973 because of his extraordinary amount of knowledge.
As a young man, Mr Ross added, he had a versatile sporting career as a Gaelic footballer with Sligo and playing rugby for Lancashire.