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 Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008

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PostSubject: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 2:02 pm

Patrick J Hillery


He was born on 2 May, 1923, in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare and qualified as a medical doctor. He married Mary Beatrice Finnegan in 1955.

In 1951 Dr. Hillery was elected to Dáil Éireann for the constituency of Clare and he received his first Government appointment as Minister for Education in 1959.

He subsequently served in a number of ministerial posts (Industry and Commerce, Labour and Foreign Affairs) prior to his appointment in 1973 as Vice President of the then Commission of the European Communities, with special responsibility for Social Affairs.

He served as Commissioner until 1976, when he was inaugurated as President of Ireland on 3 December, 1976.


R.I.P.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:17 pm

A Good Honourable Man who served his country with great ability and dignity.

May he rest in peace.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:34 pm

I was very sad to hear today that he had died. My thoughts are with his family.

In the same way that my younger siblings grew up in the company of Mary Robinson, Dr Hillery was the president of my youth. The words 'Dr Hillery' and 'President' were interchangeable, if you like. I always considered him to be quite an austere and aloof man and it was only later that I learned he wasn't.

Indeed, I think it was a post by Insider 2007 on p.ie that encouraged me to look again at him. He didn't feature in my world, in the way that Mary Robinson did later and I had assumed that he wasn't a man of the people because I had never met him - he had never come to my neck of the woods whereas all of my siblings met Mary 1 and my nieces and nephews have met Mary 2 several times. Times were different - we were lucky to get the bishop in those days - and it seems he was as personable in his own way as they were/are.

I've never attended a state funeral but if I can at all, I'll make time to attend his.

This is a time for focussing on the positives, but I don't think I'll ever forgive him for opening the Arts Block at TCD. He should have had it razed by presidential decree and veto. Smile

I'd be interested to hear people's stories of President Hillery since I don't have any of my own. And it would be a fitting way to remember the man.

In the absence of Insider 2007, NDS might oblige...

RIP
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:37 pm

One of the most underrated men in Irish politics. It was he who made plans for free second level education, plans later proposed by Donagh O'Malley and implemented by Brian Lenihan. He was the man who created the Department of Labour and the Labour Court. He was a highly respected External Affairs minister while he was arguably one of the best EEC commissioners Ireland ever had. In that role he forced Ireland to accept equal pay for women. He was low key in the presidency but behind the scenes was influential and a calming force.

All in all, history will record Paddy Hillery as an influential, intelligent, capable man who served the country with distinction. He embodied politics at his best. We should be thankful for having had such a man. His reputation was shown in British state papers released a couple of years ago. In them the then British ambassador spoke very highly of Hillery as someone who would make an exceptional taoiseach and as one of the most intelligent people in Irish politics, someone the ambassador personally admired as a good man who always wanted to do the right thing for his country, at whatever cost to himself.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:01 pm

The former presidents' lying-in-state is likely to be on Tuesday. and his funeral on Wednesday, sources have told me. Wednesday is likely to be a Day of National Mourning.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm

Thanks NDS.
It's interesting that you describe him as almost radical in his politics but almost reserved in the presidency - why was that, do you think? Was it because of his interpretation of the job or the historical context or the personality of the man?

You seem to have great admiration for him.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:35 pm

Great Post NDS - very eloquently said

I think sometimes there is the right man for the times and he lived through very turbulent times.

His standing up to Haughey and his cabal over the arms crisis in the 70's and his standing up for the consitution when there were some very dodgy times again with Mr Haughey and gang in the early 80's are the greatest tribute to the man.

He always did the right thing rather than the most politcally advantageous thing and for that he got immense respect within FG.

I believe he would have taken over from Lynch as Taoiseach if he had not ,yet again, put his country before his own personal ambitions and reluctantly took the presidency under immense presssure from the whole political community in those troubled days of the seventies.

My own personal recollections of the man are mixed and both related to my scouting days.

First I nearly killed the man in 1985 at the World Jambouree in Portumna - the mudfest to end all mudfests. To put it briefly - Pres Hillery and entourage in wellies appear at the bottom of hill and more accurately at bottom of gigantic mudslide and do not look up the hill - group of feral scouts (we are talking lord of the flies territory here- I gave up wearing clothes after 3 days) about 10 of us,at top of hill and start of mudslide, get on Mudsled for our daily cruise downhill and into lake for daily wash - scouts do not look downhill before embarking - throw in the laws of gravity and you can guess the rest!

Second time 1987 I received my Chief scout award at the special ceremony on founders at the Aras and got a guided tour and tea and cakes from the President and he was a gentleman and I politely did not bring up Portumna!
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:49 pm

Kate P wrote:
Thanks NDS.
It's interesting that you describe him as almost radical in his politics but almost reserved in the presidency - why was that, do you think? Was it because of his interpretation of the job or the historical context or the personality of the man?

You seem to have great admiration for him.

A couple of reasons why he was low-key in the presidency. The previously stable office had been rocked over the previous couple of years: 4 presidents in four years; the death of the much-loved President Childers; the presidency of an unpredictable and politically inept Cearbhall O Dalaigh, etc. Hillery took on the role for one term term to stabilise it (though that was undermined by FF shenanigans, such as Haughey spreading rumours about Paddy supposedly having a mistress (or a boyfriend) living with him in the Aras, trying to pressurise him into refusing a dissolution to Garret FitzGerald, etc). He planned to retire in 1983 and go to Africa to work as a doctor again, but under pressure from all parties agreed to stay on in a job that didn't suit him. He also was chronically underfunded. For example, Hillery was meant to host hundreds of state functions every year on a grand total of £15,000 per year entertainment allowance. (Queen Elizabeth spent that much on flowers to decorate the Palace for state functions!). It was ridiculous how little money he had, and hardly any staff. (He had to use soldiers to answer the phone because the government wouldn't pay for a telephonist, and he sent 14 years begging for a doorman for the Aras. (In the end his family and soldiers had to do that role.)

When Robinson took over she insisted, and got, a large increase in funds, from £15,000 to £100,000. Without the money he could do little. He didn't even have a press officer!

His second term was also marked by tragedy when his adopted daughter Vivienne died of leukemia. Paddy was personally a rather shy man with no ego, but did impress people. One former work colleague told me of her memory of a visit by him to her school. One kid kept slipping around and rejoining the row of kids who were meeting Hillery, much to Hillery's amusement. Paddy teased the kid with "You again?" every time the kid turned up, much to the school kids' amusement. She herself remembered as he was driving away standing watching and suddenly realising that Hillery had spotted her, giving her a wink and a special wave as he drove past. She still talks of it.

In effect Paddy saw his role in the presidency as calming down the office after the trauma of Cearbhall O Dalaigh (how bad a president O Dalaigh had been wasn't public knowledge, but he really was dreadful, delivering incoherent speeches, doing odd things, throwing occasional temper tantrums). He left for Robinson a stable, even if dull office, on which she could build. The key thing that could be said about Hillery's presidency is the fact that if a crisis erupted, you could always rely on Hillery to handle it professionally, impartially and correctly. That is something that could not always be said about his predecessor. To be honest I don't think it could said about the current president either, who generates moments of "oh god. What on earth is she doing?". It could however be said of Paddy Hillery and Mary Robinson, both of whom showed themselves to be safe pairs of hands.

Two quirky fact, by the way: Hillery in the late 1970s was voted 'sexiest head of state in the world' by readers of a West German magazine. He actually started a fashion trend, wearing cloaks and trilby hats.

Hillery was also a VERY good golfer. Nick Faldo said that Hillery was good enough to be a professional golfer capable of winning top competitions.

Overall Hillery was a very impressive man, a very good man, and will in time be written about as one of the the most impressive ministers in the Lynch and Lemass eras. He will be seen as the best taoiseach we never had. The fact that he did not become taoiseach is simply because he agreed, reluctantly, to become president in the national interest and give up the chance of being taoiseach, or dreams of returning to medicine.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:07 pm

i presume im not the only one who thought he was already dead?

rip
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:19 pm

I gcuan Dé ag breacadh an lae a bheidh sé.

I just hope we're not going to be treated to more of Bertie's sycophancy.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:13 pm

lostexpectation wrote:
i presume im not the only one who thought he was already dead?

rip

The fact that he was in UCD last week when Ahern addressed a meeting, and the newspapers mentioned that fact, should have given a clue that he was still alive!!! Embarassed

I knew he wasn't well but only last week I was trying to arrange a public meeting on the treaty and we were planning to invite Paddy. None of us realised he was that ill.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Sun Apr 13, 2008 2:49 pm

RIP Patrick Hillery. A great President who made this country proud. A man who could put the country before politics and had an exceptional sense of constitutional propriety. Ireland is the poorer without him.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:32 am

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
RIP Patrick Hillery. A great President who made this country proud. A man who could put the country before politics and had an exceptional sense of constitutional propriety. Ireland is the poorer without him.

RTE obituary on now, for Patrick Hillery. I don't really remember him much. Leaving aside the normal nice things we would say, does anyone have any "sidelong glances" that would give a feeling of the man, as much as the politician?
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:33 am

cactus flower wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
RIP Patrick Hillery. A great President who made this country proud. A man who could put the country before politics and had an exceptional sense of constitutional propriety. Ireland is the poorer without him.

RTE obituary on now, for Patrick Hillery. I don't really remember him much. Leaving aside the normal nice things we would say, does anyone have any "sidelong glances" that would give a feeling of the man, as much as the politician?

The segment on Marian Finucane this morning was rather insightful, especially the time when, as Minister for Education, he went skinny-dipping in front of 9 nuns!
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:35 am

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
RIP Patrick Hillery. A great President who made this country proud. A man who could put the country before politics and had an exceptional sense of constitutional propriety. Ireland is the poorer without him.

RTE obituary on now, for Patrick Hillery. I don't really remember him much. Leaving aside the normal nice things we would say, does anyone have any "sidelong glances" that would give a feeling of the man, as much as the politician?

The segment on Marian Finucane this morning was rather insightful, especially the time when, as Minister for Education, he went skinny-dipping in front of 9 nuns!

The hat and the cape sound pretty cool too. I suppose he put them on when he got out of the water.
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PostSubject: Re: Patrick J Hillery 1923 - 2008   Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:43 am

cactus flower wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
RIP Patrick Hillery. A great President who made this country proud. A man who could put the country before politics and had an exceptional sense of constitutional propriety. Ireland is the poorer without him.

RTE obituary on now, for Patrick Hillery. I don't really remember him much. Leaving aside the normal nice things we would say, does anyone have any "sidelong glances" that would give a feeling of the man, as much as the politician?

The segment on Marian Finucane this morning was rather insightful, especially the time when, as Minister for Education, he went skinny-dipping in front of 9 nuns!

The hat and the cape sound pretty cool too. I suppose he put them on when he got out of the water.

Exactly, he sounds like a truly great man. Is there any news of what's going to be closed on Wednesday? They're probably going to have a huge State Funeral at the Pro-Cathedral.
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