Leyden pays tribute to Ahern

They both entered Dáil Éireann in June 1977 and this week Senator Terry Leyden paid tribute to outgoing Fianna Fáil leader and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD. ‘He was an outstanding Minister and Taoiseach. History will judge his achievements well. He transformed the economy and was one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement. I regret that he will be resigning as Taoiseach on the 6th May 2008 as he had a lot more to contribute to the country. On my re-election to Seanad Éireann in July 2007, I was very pleased to accept the appointment by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as Front Bench spokesman for European Affairs in Seanad Éireann and a Member of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. ‘I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Tánaiste and Minister for Finance Brian Cowen TD on being the unanimous choice of the Fianna Fáil party to be elected President of Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach on Wednesday 7th May 2008. This is a singular honour for Brian Cowen, for his wife Mary, his two daughters, his mother and the extended Cowen family. ‘I had the honour of serving with his father Ber Cowen RIP from 1977 to his untimely death in January 1984 and as Ministers of State in government in 1982. I was area Director of Elections for Fianna Fáil in the by-election that led to the successful election of Brian Cowen TD for the first time in 1984. ‘I have worked with him as TD and Senator and I was honoured to be reappointed by Brian Cowen TD, then Minister for Health as member of the Western Health Board in July 1997, despite strong pressures not to reappoint me, he stood firm. I want to pay tribute to him for his work for Roscommon County Hospital in 2002 when he approved the signing by me of the new A&E department contract, as then Chairman of the Western Health Board. He also approved the signing by me of the purchase of Portiuncula Hospital by the Western Health Board in 2002. ‘I wish Brian Cowen TD every success when he is appointed leader of Fianna Fáil and An Taoiseach in leading a successful ‘Yes’ vote in the Lisbon Reform Treaty Referendum and to win back council seats in the 2009 Council Elections and a successful European election campaign.’