Late TD Emmet Stagg recalled as ‘constant advocate for direct building of social housing’

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik pays tribute to ‘significant voice on the left’ who has died aged 79

Former TD and minister of State Emmet Stagg, who has died aged 79, has been remembered for his “generosity and kindness” and as “a pillar of Labour politics”.

President Michael D Higgins led tributes to Mr Stagg, whose death, after a long illness, took place on Sunday.

Mr Higgins described Mr Stagg as one of his “closest friends” in Leinster House.

He said the former Kildare TD would be “deeply missed” and extended his “deepest sympathies” to Mr Stagg’s wife Mary, his children Gillian and Henry, his extended family, colleagues and friends.


The President said Mr Stagg would be remembered for his “generosity and kindness towards all of his colleagues”.

Mr Higgins added: “Emmet embodied the spirit of the Labour Party in its best sense” highlighting the service he offered to his constituents and saying: “He was one of the most hardworking TDs that I can remember in my time in Dáil Éireann.”

He added it was a “particular privilege” for him to share an office with Mr Stagg for a number of years and recalled that his colleague would bring in produce from his garden in Straffan and tell of fishing expeditions “in his beloved Mayo”.

Originally from Co Mayo, Mr Stagg was educated in Ballinrobe CBS before studying at the College of Technology, Kevin Street, Dublin.

Mr Stagg served as minister of State for the environment and later as minister of State for transport, energy and communications during in the mid-1990s.

He was Labour chief whip from 2007 to 2016, and was deputy Government whip during the coalition with Fine Gael between 2011 and 2016.

In 2009 he apparently raised the ire of then Green Party TD Paul Gogarty during a Dáil debate. In a now infamous outburst Mr Gogarty addressed him saying: “With all due respect, in the most unparliamentary language, f*** you, deputy Stagg.”

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik also offered her sympathies to Mr Stagg’s family.

She said he was a “great mentor” to her when she joined the party and hailed a “continuous unbroken record of 29 years’ service in the Dáil” from 1987 to 2016.

Ms Bacik said: “Canvassing in Kildare with Emmet was a really positive experience – he was hugely popular in his community and consistently championed the needs of those facing inequality and disadvantage.”

Responsible for housing while he was serving as a minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Ms Bacik said, Mr Stagg “proudly spoke later of his record of building homes and reducing housing lists, and how the level of homes being delivered was ramped up from 800 units a year to 10,000″.

She said: “He was a strong and constant advocate for direct building of social and affordable homes by local authorities.”

Ms Bacik said: “Emmet was a pillar of Labour politics, both in Leinster House and in Kildare, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

There was controversy in 1994 after two newspapers reported on an incident in the Phoenix Park in late 1993 where Mr Stagg had been questioned by gardaí in an area frequented by gay men. No crime had been committed and no charges were ever brought about the incident.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times