Political stalwarts bid farewell to the Dáil

Pat Rabbitte, Michael Kitt, and Joe Higgins are among the political stalwarts who have taken the opportunity to bid farewell to the Dáil before stepping down.

Political stalwarts bid farewell to the Dáil

Warm tributes were paid to Leas-Ceann Comhairle Mr Kitt yesterday on what was expected to be his last time to chair Dáil proceedings.

It is widely anticipated that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will call an election early next week and dissolve the Dáil.

Yesterday, during a discussion on the banking inquiry report, former Labour leader Mr Rabbitte used what is likely to be his last Dáil speech to ask the next government to consider legal action against the European Central Bank.

Socialist TD Mr Higgins used his time to ask Finance Minister Michael Noonan to apologise for “not explaining to us and the Irish people there and then [in 2011] that he was threatened in this way by a virtual economic and financial dictatorship”.

Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath, referring to the Galway East TD Mr Kitt, who has been a member of the Oireachtas for over 40 years, said it would be “remiss of us not to acknowledge his immense contribution to public service”.

Mr McGrath added: “He is a public servant of the utmost integrity and I want to acknowledge that.

“On behalf of his own party, the Fianna Fáil Party, I thank him for decades of service and wish him and his family all the very best in his retirement.”

These sentiments were echoed by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who thanked him for his courtesy and patience. “He was certainly a gentleman, and a patient one at that,” she said.

Acknowledging his own time in politics, Mr Rabbitte said: “It has been a unique privilege to have been elected to this house by the people of Dublin South-West in six successive general elections. And I would like to thank those people who work with me here and outside.

He also urged the next government to hold another referendum on allowing the Oireachtas to hold full inquiries.

Also stepping down is Fine Gael’s Frank Feighan who yesterday spoke of the negatives of public life on RTE’s Drive Time.

He said he received abuse while in government and said protest marches to his constituency office, which was also home to his 88-year-old mother, was an “invasion of privacy”.

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