Updated at 11.47pm
NORMAL BUSINESS WAS suspended in the Dáil this afternoon, as political leaders paid tribute to Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden.
The Longford-Westmeath deputy’s death, aged 51, follows a long battle with Motor Neurone disease. She was diagnosed with the condition in mid-2012, but made a decision to stay on and continue serving her constituents.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are devastated by the suffering and the passing of Nicky McFadden,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny said of the TD — who served as a councillor and senator, before being elected to the Chamber in the February 2011 General Election.
We are uplifted by her courage and her insight into this journey, her ability to make some sense of the savage uncertainly of life as lived.
I suppose that she passed away on the Feast of the Annunciation is somehow appropriate, because she begins her new life today free of the suffering that marked her last months on this Earth.
She brings her goodness with her to that place of life and light beyond the darkness.
He described McFadden as “a woman of great joy” and said;
“I know she’ll bring that joy with her to her new life and her new place. She’s gone before us, and I hope she’ll be there to meet us.
The Taoiseach became emotional as he described paying a visit to McFadden, on returning home from Brussels last Friday.
“This is a terribly debilitating ailment,” he said
I’d like to extend my sympathies to her children Caren and Eoin, and all her family.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he wished to join the Taoiseach in expressing “our deepest sympathy” to McFadden’s family.
He said the entire Dáil had been “shocked when we heard of Nicky’s illness” and spoke of members’ “sadness as her condition progressed”.
Gilmore described her as a “great colleague” and “somebody who brought a sense of joy to this house” who always had a positive outlook on life and on politics.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Longford-Westmeath TD had “represented the very best of commitment to public service in our country”.
He said she “always made a commitment to serve the public during her time as a councillor, senator and a member of the Dáil.”
Martin said she had borne “a very difficult condition very bravely” and described her passing as “a great loss to the Dáil and public life in general”.
‘A dreadful ailment’
Gerry Adams said that while he had not known McFadden that well, he had spoken to her several times since her diagnosis and that “it always struck me that she was very positive, very cheerful”.
“I didn’t think she was as ill as she was, because of her demeanour.”
He said Motor Neurone disease was “a dreadful ailment” and told TDs: “It might be a fitting tribute if we could resolve here to do something to get to the cause of this disease, and to research how it happens and how it can be dealt with.”
For the Technical Group, Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan spoke of her time working in a Leinster House office next door to McFadden’s, and paid tribute to her as being a “determined” individual who would be remembered for her positive attitude.
Earlier this afternoon, McFadden’s Fine Gael constituency colleague James Bannon described McFadden as a “true lady” who was always committed to her constituents.
In a statement, President Michael D. Higgins said Nicky McFadden had shown “immense courage in continuing her public service after having been diagnosed with a serious illness”.
He said she had made “an outstanding contribution” as a Senator and Deputy.
“All of our thoughts at this time are with her family, friends and constituents in Longford-Westmeath.”
First posted at 2.20pm.