Taoiseach Micheal Martin hails ‘rich legacy’ of Michael O’Kennedy after death of ex-minister

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has led tributes following the death of former Irish minister and European Commissioner Michael O’Kennedy.

He said few people had left such a “rich political legacy” as the former Fianna Fail TD, who has died at the age of 86.

Mr Martin said: “Fighting his first election in 1965, Michael served the people of Tipperary North with great commitment as a TD from 1969, and many times more until 2002.

“A man of great integrity and friendly demeanour, Michael had a front row seat for the formative years of modern Ireland.

“A senior counsel, he had a keen legal mind, and brought great wit, intelligence and determination to several ministerial roles spanning three decades.

“This experience was crucial whether serving as minister for foreign affairs, finance, labour, agriculture, transport, economic planning and development, or public service.”

Former taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald, then-Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin and former Minister for Foreign Affairs Michael O’Kennedy at the launch of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume 6 1939-41, at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin in 2008

The Taoiseach continued: “Michael was also a strong voice for Ireland on the international stage, serving as European Commissioner in the early 1980s, before returning to the Dail to serve his beloved Tipperary North once again.

“He also served ably as a senator, in 1965, and again from 1993 to 1997, in an extraordinary 37-year career in national politics.

“I want to express my deepest sympathies to the O’Kennedy family at this very difficult time, especially to his wife Breda and children Brian, Orla and Mary.”

President Michael D Higgins said: “It is with sadness that I have heard of the death of former parliamentary colleague Michael O’Kennedy.

“Michael O’Kennedy served the Irish people at home and abroad in a number of capacities and always with distinction.

“People throughout County Tipperary and beyond will have been saddened to hear of his death.

“Michael O’Kennedy gave his life to public service across such a wide range of roles including a political career of over 30 years as a TD, senator, European commissioner and across a number of ministerial portfolios.

“A distinguished senior counsel, he was popular amongst his colleagues in legal circles as well as among parliamentary colleagues across the political spectrum.”

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