Taoiseach pays tribute after death of Fianna Fáil Senator


TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen last night led tributes to Fianna Fáil Senator Peter Callanan who took ill and died suddenly at his home at Innishannon, west Cork early yesterday afternoon.

“Peter was a very honourable and loyal public servant. He served the people of Cork with great dedication and commitment. From his first election to Cork County Council in 1979 he was re-elected at every local election until standing down from the council in 2004. He was well regarded throughout his local community in Cork for his hard work and warm personality,” said Mr Cowen

“As a three-time member of Seanad Éireann he was a very strong champion of farmers’ rights.

His contribution both in public and behind the scenes helped raise awareness of many different agricultural issues and he was constantly pushing to make life better for the members of his community in Cork and rural Ireland in general.

“He was also a great servant to Fianna Fáil and was regarded as a party stalwart in the Seanad.

“He was an immensely popular man and I know his loss will be widely felt amongst his colleagues.”

Mr Cowen extended his sympathies to Mr Callanan’s wife, Sheila and their six children.

Born in Clonakilty, west Cork, the late Mr Callanan was first elected to Cork County Council in 1979 and served there for the best part of two decades before he was first elected to Seanad Éireann on the agriculture panel in 1997.

He was re-elected to the Seanad in 2002 and 2007 on the agriculture panel.

A farmer, the late Senator was in his 70s, married with four sons and two daughters.

Minister for Education, and Cork North West Fianna Fáil TD, Batt O’Keeffe also paid tribute and said that the deceased was a great colleague to him both on Cork County Council and in the Oireachtas as a Senator.

“I would like to extend my sympathy to his wife, Sheila and his family on their loss.

“Peter was already on Cork County Council when I was first elected there in 1985 and later when he was in the Seanad, we would have worked together and were very close.

“He was an extremely able and astute politician who worked resolutely on behalf of the people he served.”

Fine Gael spokesman on agriculture and Cork North West Fine Gael TD Michael Creed also expressed his sorrow at the death of Senator Callanan with whom he had served on Cork County Council and the Bandon Electoral Area Committee.

“Peter was a gentleman to his fingertips. He was Fianna Fáil through to the backbone but we got on well together. He was a great public representative,” he said.

“He was a fearless advocate for the public and at the same time he wasn’t afraid to be controversial and take an unpopular stand if he believed it was correct,” but also “a very personable man”, said Mr Creed.

Labour Senator Michael McCarthy from Dunmanway said: “He was everybody’s friend. The pipe and the smile were his trademark, he was particularly helpful to me when I was starting out on my political career and I was genuinely shocked and saddened to hear that he had died.

“He was very committed to his constituency who carried the issues that he felt were important to the highest level and once he got his teeth into some issue, he stuck with it and carried it through to the highest levels.”