Assembly Members pay tribute to Carl Sargeant in the Senedd

Reporter:

David Humphreys

Assembly Members have gathered to pay tribute to a former colleague who “brought the voice of Deeside to the heart of government.”

A week on from his death, AMs came together in the Senedd to share thoughts and memories of Carl Sargeant.

Mr Sargeant, 49, was found dead at his home in Englefield Avenue, Connah's Quay on November 7.

A provisional cause of death for the married father-of-two was given as hanging during the opening of an inquest yesterday.

Just days before he died, Mr Sargeant was removed from his role as Welsh Government cabinet secretary for communities and children after allegations were made about his personal conduct.

Before tributes began, a minute's silence was held throughout the Assembly building in Cardiff Bay as flags remained at half mast outside.

Similar moments of reflection were held during meetings of Flintshire and Wrexham Councils today.

In the Siambr, party leaders, including the under fire First Minister and leader of Welsh Labour, Carwyn Jones, led the tributes to Mr Sargeant.

The Llywydd, Elin Jones AM, said Mr Sargeant was “one of our own” and his death had shaken the Assembly to its core while his absence pains the members but pales in comparison to his friends, family and staff.

Mr Jones said Mr Sargeant was a politician, colleague and friend, and extended his deep sympathies to his family.

The First Minister said the AM for Alyn and Deeside’s “presence was obvious to all” and had been a “man of many talents” which came to the fore during his time as chief whip.

The pair spoke of the pressures of politics, being fathers and gossiping, Mr Jones said, and became friends when Mr Sargeant was elected in 2003.

Mr Jones joked that his colleague had the skills of “gentle berating” and would take some ministers to feed the ducks to persuade them to vote the right way.

Mr Sargeant had been “full of advice” and was “an ever present in the cabinet with good reason,” the First Minister said.

Mr Jones said “he brought the voice of Deeside to the heart of government.”

In closing, the AM for Bridgend said Mr Sargeant was well liked and committed, jovial, firm but fun.

He will be missed by the nation, Mr Jones said.

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said Mr Sargeant had been “a character” but a “serious individual” who “spoke for those who didn't have a voice.”

He believed in a better community in Alyn and Deeside and Wales and became the “legislator in chief.”

Mr Davies said he was “the most genuine man I've ever met” who always had a smile and had a “legacy to be proud of for many years and many decades.”

Plaid Cymru leader, Leanne Wood said the Labour AM had been “authentically working class.”

He was “committed to his community” and never forgot the people he represented, she said.

His loss was “a blow to this Assembly” and Mr Sargeant could “never be accused of being out of touch.”

Neil Hamilton, Ukip Wales leader, said Mr Sargeant had been a gentle giant who “didn't deserve to suffer as he did.”

Mr Hamilton added that the Assembly had “collectively failed” their late colleague.

Lesley Griffiths, AM for Wrexham, described Mr Sargeant as her “best comrade and friend” who she loved as a brother.

Mrs Griffiths said her friend had “achieved so much” and was “an amazing politician” who had been a “skilled negotiator” and treated everyone the same.

Mr Sargeant was “full of fun” but took his role very seriously and was “proud to be an advocate for his constituents,” she said.

Mr Sargeant had “legendary” banter and a “wicked sense of humour” but was also “a beautiful, vulnerable and sensitive soul” who was kind to people.

Another cabinet colleague, Ken Skates, the AM for Clwyd South, said Mr Sargeant had not been a conventional politician but had a “love of life” and never lost an election.

The community he represented “ran through Carl's blood” and if there was to be a legacy, Mr Skates said “we should all show a little more love to one another.”

Mr Skates closed: “Carl, you take care.”

As in Connah's Quay at the Labour Club, a book of remembrance remains open at the Assembly in memory of Mr Sargeant.

Email:

david.humphreys@nwn.co.uk

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