I was deeply shocked to learn of the death of my friend, and long time colleague, Paddy Sheehan of Goleen, Co Cork. Paddy was a Fine Gael public representative in West Cork from 1967 to 2011.

Paddy lost his wife, Frances, only last week. This was a huge blow because Frances was central to every aspect of Paddy’s life. Although he bore this loss with great fortitude, it must have taken a great toll.

Paddy first entered public life when elected to Cork County Council in 1967.

He contested the General Elections of 1969, 1973 and 1977 without success, but he persisted and was elected  to the Dail in 1981. In so doing, he won a second seat for Fine Gael in South West Cork, an immense achievement in a 3 seat constituency.

He held the seat, with one interval, until his retirement from politics in 2011.

Paddy was a great advocate of the interests of rural Ireland and especially of  those who lived on the western seaboard. He was in constant contact with his electorate, running in Goleen what is now the only surviving general store and supermarket on the Mizen peninsula.

His journey to Dail Eireann each week was longer than that of almost every other TD, but he made himself heard in the Dail Chamber frequently and strongly.

 He had a great sense of humour and was beloved across all political divisions.

On behalf of all my family, I extend heartfelt sympathy to, his children, Diarmuid, Deirdre, Eucharia and Maebh in  the huge double bereavement they are suffering.