Seanad Éireann - Volume 160 - 03 November, 1999

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy.

Mr. Cassidy: I wish to express my sympathy, and that of all Senators, to the family of a former Member of this House, the late William Sheldon, who passed away last Sunday night in Letterkenny Hospital.

Mr. Sheldon was first elected to the Dáil in 1944, where he served the people of Donegal East until 1961. When the Donegal constituency was reduced from a four-seater to a three-seater, he decided not to run again and was nominated to the Seanad by the late Seán Lemass in 1961, where he served two terms until 1969. He was also a highly respected member of Donegal County Council from 1945 to 1955. We are told that when he rose to speak at those council meetings, everyone listened attentively.

William did not seek the limelight but in his own quiet way he did his work. Regardless of politics or religious persuasion, he was supported by people from all walks of life and was known to all who met him to be a broadminded and courteous man. On behalf of the Seanad and the Fianna Fáil Party I convey our deepest sympathy to his family. Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam.

Mr. Manning: I join in this tribute to the late Senator William Alexander Watson Sheldon. I did not know him but having read many of his speeches and read about him over the years, I feel as if I did know him, at least to some small extent. As his name suggests, he came to the Dáil largely on the votes of Protestants and former Unionists in Donegal but he quickly established himself, as the Leader has said, as a person who had support across all divides in Donegal.

He was a genuine independent and supported the first inter-party Government of 1948 to 1951 where he was a consistent but not uncritical supporter of the Government. Again he supported the second inter-party Government of 1954 to 1957. He was a person of enormous common sense, very much in the blunt tradition of his county. He had the genuine respect of all parties [1082] in the House. His independence was greatly respected, to the extent that Seán Lemass subsequently appointed him as one of his nominees to the Seanad. Judging by the records he made a very full contribution and I join in the expression of sympathy to his family.

Mr. O'Toole: On behalf of the Independent benches we would like to be included in the vote of sympathy and condolence to the family of the late Senator William Sheldon. None of us on these benches had the experience of knowing him. We recognise his quarter of a century of committed public representation and we are happy to be associated with it. I am sorry that we cannot add anything to the discussion but any man that commanded people's attention when he rose to speak is someone who deserves respect, especially among politicians.

Mr. Costello: On behalf of the Labour group I would like to be associated with the expressions of sympathy and the condolences to the family of the late William Sheldon. He served, as Leader of the House has stated, for a long time in various capacities from 1944 to 1973, almost 30 years, as a councillor, as a Deputy and as a Senator. He was an independent man from a farming background with, as one would expect, a great interest in fishing, coming from County Donegal. He served his community and his country well. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Ms Keogh: I would like to be associated with the words of regret and condolence on behalf of the Progressive Democrat Party. I know of the former Senator William Sheldon only by repute and we have heard just a flavour of the man today. It is tremendous to hear of someone in political life who is independent in spirit and mind and it should serve as a reminder to us all. It is fitting that we appreciate his long period of public service and I add my own personal condolences to his family.

An Cathaoirleach: I ask Senators to rise in their places as a mark of respect to the late Senator Sheldon.

Members rose.