Seán Lemass, solider, politician and statesman, is dead. Political colleagues pay tribute to the former Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil.
Seán Lemass was a veteran of the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War in Ireland. In 1924 he was first elected as a Sinn Féin Teachta Dala (TD) for the Dublin South constituency and later re-elected for Dublin South–Central Constituency. He was a founder-member of Fianna Fáil in 1926, and served as Minister for Industry and Commerce, Minister for Supplies and Tánaiste in successive Fianna Fáil governments. He served as Taoiseach from 1959 until 1966. He died in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, on 11 May 1971 aged 71.
Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, acknowledges the nation's sense of loss on the death of the former Fianna Fáil leader. As the father of modern Ireland, his name will be linked to economic and social progress in the country. As Minister for Industry and Commerce, he gave birth to and developed Irish aviation, shipping industries and the peat development programme.
Jack Lynch reminisces that Lemass,
Had very many great qualities and characteristics. Amongst these I recall his powerful analytical brain that brought him to the kernel of every problem, his tremendous capacity for decision and his great belief in the Irish people.
Liam Cosgrave, leader of Fine Gael respects Lemass's practical approach to public affairs and named him as "the first realist in Fianna Fail" when realism in that party was a scarce commodity. Cosgrave says that it may have been a regret for Lemass that he came to the office of Taoiseach late in his political career and
Was prevented from realising his full potential as head of Government.
Brendan Corish, leader of the Irish Labour Party respected Lemass although they differed politically and recognises the contribution he made to Irish Industry and to the improvement of relations between North and South. Corish speculates that we might have had a somewhat different Ireland had Lemass been appointed Taoiseach earlier on in his career
These pre-recorded tributes were recorded by RTÉ News on 11 May 1971.