'Renaissance man devoted to public service'

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FORMER MINISTER for foreign affairs James Dooge was a great scientist, an exemplary politician, a man of culture and a passionate advocate for a just society, mourners were told at his funeral yesterday.

Prof Dooge (88) was a leading member of the Seanad for nearly 30 years and also had a distinguished academic career in engineering. He had a world reputation for his work on hydrology.

Hundreds attended his funeral at St John the Baptist Church in Blackrock, including former taoisigh Liam Cosgrave and Dr Garret FitzGerald.

In his eulogy, chancellor of the National University of Ireland Maurice Manning said the words “Renaissance man” were a good description for Prof Dooge because of his broad range of interests. As a politician he was “an original thinker, a trusted adviser but he was also a foot soldier”.

He was extremely loyal to Fine Gael and “believed fundamentally and passionately in the centrality of party politics”.

It was no exaggeration to say that the Dooge report, which looked at the framework for European institutional reforms, had helped shape the development of the European Union, he said.

In the academic world, Prof Dooge was a “stunningly good teacher who knew and helped his students and whose loyalty to him was reflected in the votes of NUI graduates over a period of 30 years”.

His work in the Royal Irish Academy was not so well known but was equally significant, Dr Manning said. Prof Dooge was president of the academy in the late 1980s.

“Jim was that rare phenomenon in Irish life, a public intellectual whose life was devoted, without posture, to the public service.”

The mass was celebrated by Fr Pádraig McCarthy who was joined by clergy including parish priest Fr Eddie Conway and Bishop Emeritus of Kildare and Leighlin, Dr Jim Moriarty. Fr McCarthy said there were “an amazing number of aspects” to Prof Dooge’s life.

He had his many awards and accomplishments in the academic sphere but he also was a man of tremendous faith and was very generous in sharing his research and work with others.

Fr McCarthy said Prof Dooge’s memoirs, which were almost finished, would provide a valuable insight into his life.

The chief mourners were his sons Colm and Diarmuid, daughters Clíona and Dara and his sister Eithne. He was predeceased by his wife Roni and his daughter Meliosa. Gifts brought to the altar included a photograph of his wife, as well as his Bible, a chess piece, a cricket ball and a mortar board.

As well as politicians and academics, mourners included people who had met Prof Dooge through his work with St Vincent de Paul, the parish pastoral council and the Refugee Trust, now known as Vita.

The Taoiseach was represented by his aide-de-camp Comdt Michael Treacy while President Mary McAleese was represented by Capt Niamh O’Mahony.

Also in attendance was the Lord Mayor of Dublin Gerry Breen and Mr Justice John Mac Menamin.

Concern chief executive Tom Arnold was present, as was Fr Norman Fitzgerald of Vita.

Also in attendance were Patrick Buckley, executive secretary of the Royal Irish Academy; a number of past and present UCD staff; Press Ombudsman Prof John Horgan; Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy; broadcaster Olivia O’Leary and filmmaker Éamon de Buitléar.

Brendan Halligan, chairman of the Institute of International and European Affairs, was among the mourners, as was Philip Hamell, assistant secretary at the Department of the Taoiseach.

Serving and retired politicians present included cathaoirleach of the Seanad Pat Moylan; Fine Gael senator Eugene Regan and deputies Brian Hayes and Bernard Durkan; Fianna Fáil senators John Hanafin and Paul Coghlan; Fine Gael councillor Barry Ward; former minister for justice Nora Owen; former EU commissioner Dick Burke; Labour’s Ruairí Quinn and Barry Desmond; and former minister for education Niamh Bhreathnach and her husband Tom Ferris, who welcomed the crowd on behalf of the Blackrock parish council.

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