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Former Progressive Democrats leader Des O’Malley dies aged 82

Tributes to politician who led ‘a life of courage and consequence’.

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Former Progressive Democrats leader Desmond O’Malley has died (PA)

Former Progressive Democrats leader Desmond O’Malley has died (PA)

Former Progressive Democrats leader Desmond O’Malley has died (PA)

Former leader of the Progressive Democrats and minister Des O’Malley has died at the age of 82.

Mr O’Malley, who had been unwell for some time, died on Wednesday morning.

He served as a TD from 1968 until 2002.

He played a major figure in Irish politics for more than 30 years.

President Michael D Higgins led tributes to him, saying that his contribution to public life was “extensive and meaningful”.

“As President of Ireland, I offer my sympathy to all who will have been saddened by the death of Des O’Malley,” Mr Higgins said.

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“The news of the death of Des O’Malley will have been received with great sadness by all, across the political spectrum.

“His contribution to public life as founder and leader of a political party, as Cabinet Minister and as Dail Deputy, was extensive and meaningful.

“His deep commitment to serving the people of Limerick, to the Republic, and to the parliamentary process, since he was first elected to the Dail in 1968 stands as an outstanding example of dedicated public service, often delivered under great pressure.

“Des O’Malley had a major influence on Irish politics, and his legacy and integrity includes a major contribution to the role of coalitions in Irish government formation.

“Those of us who had the privilege of working with him in the Oireachtas will also remember him as courteous, courageous and principled.

“As a friend he was gifted with a wry sense of humour, which he shared with generosity and a gift for irony.

“Sabina and I send our sincere condolences to his family, former colleagues and friends.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he was deeply saddened by Mr O’Malley’s death.

“As a TD, Minister and party leader he represented the people of Limerick and our country as a whole with determination and a commitment to making Ireland a better place,” Mr Martin added.

As the founder and leader of the Progressive Democrats he had an influence which went far beyond that party’s period in the DailMicheal Martin

“As Minister for Justice he dedicated himself to facing down an illegitimate campaign of violence that directly targeted the institutions of the State.

“As Minister for Industry and Commerce at different times he led that Department in attracting critical investment in our country and helped to develop new industries.

“It was a record of real achievement of which he was rightly proud.

“As the founder and leader of the Progressive Democrats he had an influence which went far beyond that party’s period in the Dail.

“He showed an ability to work with others on a positive programme and to put to one side disagreements. In doing this he helped set a new course for Irish politics.

“During his last period in the Dail he served as a very constructive backbencher, who was always available to ministers to advise and to make sure that a minority Government could work effectively, especially in negotiating and implementing the historic Good Friday Agreement.

“I remember well how my ministerial colleagues from the Progressive Democrats relied heavily on Des’s counsel at important moments.

“Often overlooked has been his five years as a Director of the European Board of Reconstruction and Development during which, working from London, he helped implement programmers designed to extend peace and prosperity through new regions of Europe.

“His was a life of courage and consequence. He loved his country and was fearless in challenging those who used violence to undermine it.

“We remember him at the Government meeting today and my thoughts are with his friends and family.”

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys said: “Des, his late wife Pat and their family endured great risk including threats from those who sought to undermine the authority of this State but Des never wavered in his duty and commitment to preserving our State and the safety and security of all its people.

“The steadfast service Des O’Malley gave to our State will never be forgotten by all those who cherish law and order.

“He was a republican in the truest sense of the word, one who broke the mould of Irish politics and helped modernise our society and our economy.”


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