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President leads tributes to former government minister Tom O’Donnell

Fine Gael confirmed on Friday that the 94-year-old former public representative had died.

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Irish President Michael D Higgins (Danny Lawson/PA)

Irish President Michael D Higgins (Danny Lawson/PA)

Irish President Michael D Higgins (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Irish president has led tributes to former government minister Tom O’Donnell.

Fine Gael announced on Friday that Mr O’Donnell had died at the age of 94.

He served as minister for the Gaeltacht under taoiseach Liam Cosgrave between 1973 and 1977.

Mr Higgins described Mr O’Donnell, from Co Limerick, as an “outstanding public representative” who served his constituents as a TD and MEP for almost three decades and continued working for his community in a variety of voluntary roles after his retirement from politics.

“He will be fondly remembered, particularly by his constituents in Limerick and Munster but also by the Gaeltacht community whose cause he championed as minister for the Gaeltacht under taoiseach Liam Cosgrave,” he said.

“He provided true leadership in relation to the Gaeltacht, immersing himself in the Irish language in order to be able to fully appreciate the community whose interests he was appointed to represent at the cabinet table. During his ministry, the Gaeltacht saw dramatic improvements in infrastructure and employment levels.”

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar described Mr O’Donnell as a “beloved and admired figure” within the party.

“More important than any office he held was what Tom represented throughout his life – a man who lived by the values of perseverance, humility and service. He was first and foremost a proud Limerick man,” he said.

“Following his departure from Irish politics, when many seek to enjoy the comforts of retirement, Tom continued to serve through the voluntary sector with organisations core to Limerick’s success in recent decades.

“On behalf of Fine Gael, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Helen, his son Thomas, and to his nephew Deputy Kieran O’Donnell, who carries on the family’s political legacy today.”

Online Editors