It is hard to comprehend the fact that Myles Staunton is dead. He was always so endlessly enthusiastic, and so youthful, both in appearance and in frame of mind.
Myles Staunton, who died suddenly in the last twenty four hours at his home in Westport, played a critical role in 1973, in bringing to office the first Coalition Government after 16 uninterrupted years of Fianna Fail rule. By winning an additional Dail seat for Fine Gael along with the late Henry Kenny in a hotly contested 3 seat constituency in Mayo, he tipped the balance in favour of a change of Government, and brought Liam Cosgrave and Brendan Corish to office, in what was to prove to be one of the great Governments of the twentieth century.
Myles made an immediate impact in Leinster House.
He was a convinced and convincing advocate of viable, commercial, and privately run, economic development in the West of Ireland.
He was convincing because, unusually for a politician, he was one of those who, by deed not just word, put his own money at risk to help “shout stop”, as fellow Mayo man John Healy put it, to the seemingly inexorable decline of his native province.
He invested personally to develop the seaweed industry along the Atlantic shoreline , providing vital supplementary income to coastal smallholders.
He went on to develop, on a similar basis, a project for local farmers collecting turf on the raised bogs of North Mayo to supply an innovative fuel product that had enormous potential, especially in the era of high oil prices.
He was absolutely tireless, right up to the very end of his life in looking out for employment possibilities based on the natural resources of Mayo.
He was a strong supporter, in the Senate, of Knock Airport and held his own in every argument with those who questioned this vital link for all of Connacht.
In everything he attempted, Myles was relentless in pursuing his goals and was never discouraged by the setbacks sometimes inflicted upon him by myopic bureaucracy.
From the outset of his career, Myles recognised that his native county could only prosper if it developed links with, and understanding of, the problems of other parts of the world. He recognised the possibilities of globalisation almost before the word was invented.
He was one of the pioneers, in the 1970s, of the Euro Arab dialogue. He led a visit by Irish TDs and Senators to Lebanon and Syria in 1974, in which it was my privilege to be part. He recognised the crucial role that that part of the world would play in all our lives.
He was a founding member of the Trilateral Commission, which brings together elected politicians, academics, businesspeople and civil servants from Asia, Europe and North America. He continued to involve himself in promoting this work up to and beyond the most recent successful meeting of that body in Dublin last year.
I will miss Myles greatly. Through my wife, Finola, I am his first cousin by marriage, and I have so many happy memories of time spent with him. He was exceptionally kind and attentive to needs of all his family and extended family. He never missed an important family event, and was kind to all in their times of trouble. Finola and I extend heartfelt sympathy to his wife Marianne and to Ruth, Elizabeth, Hugh, Myles and Aoife at this time of grief.
Tribute to the late Myles Staunton by John Bruton, Former Taoiseach and current vice President of Fine Gael.