Tributes paid to 'brilliant strategist' Brennan


Warm tributes have been paid to Séamus Brennan who died in the early hours of this morning following a year-long illness.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said his former colleague would remembered as "a brilliant political strategist, a
dedicated constituency TD, a reforming minister and a very popular colleague. He will be hugely missed by everyone in the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party and throughout our entire organisation."

"Seamus Brennan was a man of great courtesy. He faced his illness with great dignity and fortitude. He never complained and continued to work for his constituents in spite of his declining health," Mr Cowen said in a statement.

"I recall this morning in particular my last meeting with Seamus during the campaign on the Lisbon Treaty referendum. Even though he was battling a serious illness, his enthusiasm and commitment were such that he joined me and other colleagues on the hustings in South Dublin.

"I have in my mind today that memory of a very brave and courageous man, exchanging words of encouragement upon my arrival, and subsequently, the parting words, the firm handshake and the inevitable smile that sought to reassure that all would be well."

Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea said Mr Brennan was a "superb organiser and a hugely innovative minister" and "one of the best Ministers for Social and Family affairs that we have ever had in this country."

Minister for the Environment John Gormley described Mr Brennan as totally reliable and "a very decent person". He praised Mr Brennan's "pivotal role in the formation of the Government last June".

President Mary McAleese said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of his death.

"Seamus played a major role in the building of the modern Ireland. His many talents were such that he could have been successful in several fields, yet it was a mark of the man that he chose to devote those gifts to public service and the public good. His achievements and contribution will leave a lasting mark on our country. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Ann and his family at this very difficult time - to them I extend my deepest sympathies", she said.

Minister for Health Mary Harney said she was "deeply saddened to learn of the death today of my friend and
Government colleague of many years".

Ms Harney described Mr Brennan as "always considerate and soft-spoken" and "a real gentleman".

She added: "Seamus and I entered Irish politics together at the encouragement of a great mentor, Jack Lynch, over thirty years ago. He stayed true to the Jack Lynch’s vision of an enterprising, peaceful Ireland throughout his long career."

Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny also paid tribute to Mr Brennan. “Seamus brought a deep human understanding to all aspects of politics and could always be relied upon to respond in a calm and measured way to any crisis.

“I would like to take this opportunity to offer my deepest sympathies to Seamus’ family, friends and all his colleagues in Fianna Fáil at this very sad time.”

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said: "All those in the Labour Party who dealt with Seamus Brennan found him to be a man of exceptional courtesy and consideration."

The leader of the Progressive Democrats Ciarán Cannon said his fellow Galwegian had a rare combination of qualities that have been of immeasurable benefit to the people of Ireland. “In his time as minister he was never a man to simply stick with the status quo, he was always seeking to change things for the better, sometimes
with a bravery that is seldom seen”.

Fellow Dublin South representative Fine Gael's Alan Shatter said: “Seamus Brennan was not just a politician of national prominence; he was a local political institution. He had a way of dealing with people and organisations that both reassured and encouraged confidence."

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams also paid tribute to Mr Brennan. “Despite his serious illness he sought no fuss or attention over his last few months. His passing at an early age is a loss to Irish politics.”