I would like to add a word to the many well deserved tributes that have been paid to the career of Richie Ryan, who died yesterday.
He was the most radical Minister for Finance ever. His commitment to social justice was realistic, rather than rhetorical.
The changes he made in extending the tax base, through capital and other taxes, and his simultaneous widening of social welfare coverage, were not equalled by any other Minister for Finance.
To have undertaken such changes at a time of economic contraction due to the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis, was truly remarkable.
He managed to turn the economy around, and growth had returned by 1975. But the political dividend from growth was, as to be expected, delayed. It was not reflected in the result of 1977 Election. Richie Ryan did not get the credit he deserved, at the time, or since.
He was deeply loyal to his party leader, Liam Cosgrave , and was one of his most combative defenders.
He had a very serious accident later in life, and showed immense courage in the way he faced, and overcame, the challenges it brought. He did not let it stop him being a cheerful and friendly presence at party gatherings.
He will be missed. I extend heartfelt sympathy to his family.