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Thursday, 9 February 2012
Page: 604

Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (13:55): I rise to pay homage to an Irish gentleman, Cyril Bell, whom I first met when I came to parliament 12 years ago. He has just retired as the cleaner in my electorate office in Melbourne. I want to tell you something of his great immigrant success story.

Cyril comes from County Tipperary. He married his wife, Carolyn, from nearby Kilkenny. Uncertain of the future in the land of their birth, they decided, like so many others of Ireland's youth have done from generation to generation, to join the Irish diaspora. Cyril and Carolyn have been married for 50 years, almost all of that time in Australia.

Cyril arrived in Port Melbourne on a Chandris liner, decked out in shorts and T-shirt, perhaps eager to get some of that well-publicised sun and surf. He found himself in the midst of the coldest winter in Melbourne in 50 years. Cyril got a job at the old Woolworths, a dream for a couple from Ireland. With the support of his employers in those days—'That was then,' he says—they found themselves with a house, which they still have, and an old Ford Falcon, which they do not. 'I thought I'd landed in heaven,' Cyril said, 'and I still do. No-one like us in Ireland in those days had a car.'

He developed a reputation for honesty, security and reliability, went into business and became a cleaner with many contracts in Melbourne in many parliamentary offices. I guess you would say he is my oldest, longest serving employee. Thank you, Cyril. Thank you, Carolyn, for supporting him all those years. May you enjoy a long and happy retirement together in good health and may you enjoy that trip you are planning back to Ireland in July— (Time expired)