Seanad Éireann - Volume 83 - 26 November, 1975
Death of Former President.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins Mr. M.J. O'Higgins
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: On the 29th August last, his family and, indeed, the entire nation were bereaved by the death, at the age of 92 years, of former President and Taoiseach, Mr. Eamon de Valera. In a short tribute it is not easy to do much more than mention some of the highlights of his public life.
Nearly 70 years ago Mr. de Valera associated himself with the Irish language revival movement and throughout his life the cause of the Irish language could count on his unswerving support. As Commandant of the 3rd Dublin Battalion he took part in the Rising of Easter 1916. He became President of Dáil Éireann in 1919.
Following the Treaty of 1921 his views differed from those of the majority and in 1926 he founded the Fianna Fáil Party. He led it for the next 33 years, both in Opposition and in Government, until he retired from politics in 1959 on being elected President of Ireland. His long membership of Dáil Éireann was distinguished  by his election, first as President of the Executive Council, and subsequent to the adoption of the 1937 Constitution, as Taoiseach on no fewer than eight occasions.
He was elected President of the Council of the League of Nations in 1932 and became President of the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1938.
He was elected President of Ireland for the first time in June, 1959, and was re-elected for a second term of office in 1966. Although elected as President on the first occasion straight from the arena of active politics, and in an atmosphere not free from political controversy, as a strongly contested proposal for a constitutional amendment was voted upon at the same time, nevertheless, when elected to the highest office in the land, Mr. de Valera honourably and with the utmost integrity rose magnificently above party politics. He fulfilled the duties of his high office in a scrupulously non-partisan manner and with dignity and honour redounding to his  personal credit and the credit of the nation.
It cannot be said that his political views and actions always commanded universal support, but it can be said that for most of the time they did command majority support. Whether we agreed or differed from Eamon de Valera in politics, we can all acknowledge and salute the integrity, the courage and the generosity of his selfless devotion to the service of his country and its people.
Regardless of our political affiliations we can recognise in him an Irish statesman of towering stature who attracted not merely the steadfast political loyalty of hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen but also the admiration and respect of his political opponents and, particularly in his later years, the affectionate regard of the people of the country he served with such dedication for so long a time.
It is not given to many to become legendary during their own lifetime, but such a one was Eamon de Valera, both at home and abroad. His place is in history, and it will be for the historian to evaluate fully his contribution to Ireland. That it was of major significance cannot be questioned nor can it be doubted that his contribution was made unstintingly with a generous heart and an indomitable spirit.
May be rest in peace.
Mr. Yeats Mr. Yeats
Mr. Yeats: Senator O'Higgins has recounted to us the details of the career of Eamon de Valera, details that cover a long span of time and a large number of offices that he held and of achievements with which he was connected. Eamonn de Valera was in every sense of the term a historic figure. He had already become in the minds of all our people one of the really great figures of Irish history. It would be fair to say that modern Ireland—the Ireland we know today— owes an enormous amount to him and, indeed, would barely exist at all had it not been for Éamon de Valera and the work that he did for Ireland.
He was associated with Conradh na Gaeilge in the early days and his adherence to the Irish language remained with him always and should be an  example to us. He was associated with the 1916 Rising. He adhered steadfastly to the concept of an Irish Republic. He devised for us the Constitution that is at present the Constitution of our Republic and that has stood remarkably well through the worst of times. As Senator O'Higgins has said, he distinguished himself as President of Ireland for two consecutive terms.
Those of us who knew Éamon de Valera found him an inspiring figure, a figure we could respect and learn from and will always remember and at the same time, in private conversation, a man of infinite charm and humour. We all of us deeply regret his passing, but I think that all of us, no matter what our politics, no matter what our views may be on a variety of matters, can look upon him as a great example, an example of a very great Irishman who put Ireland, Irish traditions, Irish culture, always to the fore. It is a privilege for us on this side of the House to have been closely associated with him as our President and founder. For all Irish people of whatever politics it is a privilege for us all to have been alive during the period of the life and work of this great man.
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: On behalf of the graduates of the National University and its staff I am happy and privileged to be associated with the tribute being paid by both Senator O'Higgins and Senator Yeats to our late President Eamon de Valera. It was, as they have both said, an inspiration to all to have known him, and his career has been sketched very well, but in addition I would mention the National University of Ireland, where for 54 years he was an effective Chancellor. He presided over that body without the slightest touch of politics. To those who were privileged to have served under him as Chancellor and chairman of the meetings of the university, his integrity, his devotion, his impartiality and, above all, his kindliness were an example and an encouragement to all of us.
Mr. de Valera's presence in the Seanad and his handling of issues here was the epitome of how a statesman  in a modern democracy should handle his briefs. At all times he was eager and willing to enter into reasoned debate on the amendments advanced by Members, and he sought at all times, if he rejected an amendment, to give an acceptable reason for the rejection so that the mover of the amendment felt at the end that it had been a worth-while exercise to have moved the amendment and to have participated and precipitated the debate that resulted from it. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis agus imeasc na Naomh agus na laoch ó Éirinn go léir.
Senators rose in their places.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: I will convey to the relatives of the late Mr. de Valera the sympathy of the House and an account of the tributes that have been paid in the House today.
Seanad Éireann 83 Death of Former President.