Seanad Éireann - Volume 162 - 04 April, 2000

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy.

Mr. Cassidy: I offer, as Leader of the House and of the Fianna Fáil group in the House, my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the wife, family and friends of the late Jim Sanfey, who passed away peacefully yesterday in the Blackrock Clinic, Dublin. Jim was a Member of this House from 9 May 1973 until 16 August 1977. I offer our condolences to his wife, Gabrielle, his children, Hilary, David, John and Michael, his brother, Vincent, and the rest of the members of his family.

Go ndeine Dia trócaire ar a anam.

Mr. Cosgrave: It was with enormous regret that I learnt this morning of the death of the late Commandant Jim Sanfey, former Senator and former general secretary of Fine Gael. Jim Sanfey gave long and dedicated service to Fine Gael and to the Seanad in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Before that, he had served in the Army from 1941 to 1967. He was a graduate of the Command and Staff School and a commandant in the Supply and Transport Corps. He served with the UN in the Congo in 1961 and was captain of the 34th Irish Battalion.

He was general secretary of Fine Gael from 1967 to 1977 and was a Senator from 1973 to 1977. He was Government Chief Whip in the Seanad and also served on the Committee of Procedure and Privileges and the Committee of Selection.

In his political work Jim Sanfey brought to bear his extensive organisational qualities which achieved significant by-election victories in Wicklow in 1968 when Godfrey Timmins was elected, in Kildare and Longford-Westmeath in 1970 when Paddy Malone and Pat Cooney were elected on the same day and in Monaghan in 1973 when Brendan Toal was elected.

At all times as general secretary of the party he gave extremely dedicated and loyal service. Another very significant attribute is that in those [1410] days he helped keep the books balanced with very limited resources.

I extend my sympathy to his wife, Gabrielle, and his children, Hilary, David, John and Michael. He was a particularly loyal and dedicated supporter of my father, who had the pleasure of appointing him to the Seanad as one of the Taoiseach's nominees in 1973. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Mr. O'Toole: We join in offering the condolences of the Independent benches to the Fine Gael Party and the family of the late Jim Sanfey. None on these benches served with him, but I had the pleasure of meeting him on one occasion in 1977 when dealing with an education issue on which we were lobbying the Government. I found him to be courteous and fully engaged with the topic and he took the trouble to respond to the issues and follow-up on them. From that experience, and from what we have heard and read about him, he was a diligent public servant who served his party and country well.

We offer our condolences to his family and his party. Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé.

Mr. Costello: I would like to be associated with the tributes which have been paid to the late James Sanfey and to offer my sympathy and that of the Labour Party to his wife and children. Clearly James Sanfey was a person of considerable substance having served as general secretary for ten years and as a Senator for four years, during which time he was Government Whip. He also gave considerable service in the Army, including service in the Congo. I offer our sympathy to his wife and family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Mr. Dardis: On behalf of the Progressive Democrats I would like to be associated with the tributes to the late Senator Jim Sanfey and to express our condolences to his wife and children and to the Fine Gael Party, which he served so loyally over such an extended period. It is quite unusual for somebody to make that transition from the Army to public life – Paddy Lane, who became an MEP, is an example in more recent times. It is a tribute to Jim Sanfey that he served with the trailblazers who went to the Congo in the very early days of peacekeeping. We know that at the time they were not very well equipped, that it was a very arduous task and that the Army lost quite a few members, which I am sure left a mark on him.

We extend our sympathy to his wife and family.

An Cathaoirleach: I wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy to the widow and family of the late Jim Sanfey.

Members rose.[1411]