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11-01-2022

Honouring President David Sassoli

European Parliament President David Sassoli passed away on 11 January. The Parliament will honour his memory in a ceremony on Monday in Strasbourg. In the coming days, a book of condolences will be available to sign in Europe House on Lower Mount Street in Dublin.

European Parliament President David Sassoli passed away earlier today in Aviano (Italy), where he had been hospitalised since 26 December. A Member of the European Parliament since 2009, he was elected President in July 2019 for the first half of the legislature.

President Sassoli adopted extraordinary measures enabling the European Parliament to carry out its duties and exercise its prerogatives under the Treaties during the course of the pandemic. He also played a prominent role in championing an ambitious long-term EU budget and effective recovery facility. In addition, the late President led Parliament in showing its solidarity towards the less fortunate when the crisis first hit, with supportive actions in European Parliament’s host cities such as providing meals to charities and shelter in Parliament’s premises to women who are victims of violence. Determined to draw from the lessons of the pandemic, President Sassoli also launched a large reflection exercise with Members to rethink and reinforce Parliamentary democracy.

As a dedicated European, President Sassoli underlined in his speech at the European Council in December a few weeks ago that “What Europe needs, and needs most of all, is a new project of hope. I think we can build that project on the basis of a powerful three-pronged approach: a Europe that innovates; a Europe that protects; and a Europe that illuminates.”

Commemoration

A ceremony to honour his memory will take place on Monday 17 January at the opening of the plenary session in Strasbourg in the presence of former MEP and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

In Rome, President David Sassoli will lie in state on Thursday 13 January from 10.00 to 18.00 in Sala della Promoteca of the Campidoglio. The funeral service will take place on Friday 14 January at 12.00 in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Election of the new EP President

As outlined in the Rules of Procedure (Rule 20), the interim Presidency will be ensured by the first Vice-President of the Parliament in the days leading up to the election of a new President. As originally planned before the sudden passing of President Sassoli, the election of the President for the second half of the mandate will take place on Tuesday 18 January during the Strasbourg plenary. The elections of the Vice-Presidents and Quaestors will follow in the same week.

Reaction to today's news

President Michael D Higgins has said Mr Sassoli made a "valuable contribution in highlighting the importance of the European Union being closer to the people of Europe."

President Higgins also extended his sympathies to Mr Sassoli's family and friends, as well as members of the European Parliament.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD said: "Deeply saddened to hear of the death of David Sassoli, a committed European who leaves a significant legacy in his presidency of the European Parliament.   His passion and leadership in the promotion and defence of European values will be sorely missed."

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney TD said: "I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament.

"David was an accomplished journalist who covered major events both in his native Italy and internationally. He was also an outstanding representative and a committed European, who contributed greatly as Vice-President, and subsequently as President, to the development of the European Parliament.  He will be remembered for his warmth and humanity, traits which served him well especially over the last two years as he effectively oversaw significant changes necessitated to the Parliament’s operations as a result of the pandemic.

"My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis."

Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne TD, said: "I am very saddened to hear this news. My deepest sympathies to David’s family. David was an outstanding journalist, representative of the people and European."