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Des O'Malley, former minister and Progressive Democrats founder, dies aged 82

Des O’Malley, the founder of the Progressive Democrats and former Fianna Fáil minister, has died aged 82.

He had been unwell for some time.

Mr O’Malley was elected as a TD for Limerick in 1968 and was appointed Minister for Justice during the Arms Crisis of 1970.

Mr O’Malley was elected as a TD for Limerick in 1968 and was appointed Minister for Justice during the Arms Crisis of 1970.

A fierce opponent of Charles Haughey, he was expelled from Fianna Fáil in 1984 by Mr Haughey and went on to found the Progressive Democrats in 1985, becoming its first leader.

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He led the PDs into a coalition government with the Haughey-led Fianna Fáil in 1989, becoming Minister for Industry and Commerce and reaching an uneasy rapprochement in with Mr Haughey in Government.

It was the first coalition that Fianna Fáil participated in.

In his 34-year career, he served in four different governments and held a range of senior ministerial portfolios.

He stepped down as leader of the PDs in 1993, but remained a TD for Limerick East until his retirement from active politics in 2002.

Dessie O'Malley with his wife Pat in 2007. Photo: Collins Photos
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His wife, Pat, predeceased him in 2017. The couple had six children.

Among those who have paid tribute to the long-serving politician this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: "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 Government meeting today and my thoughts are with his family."

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: "He broke the mould of Irish politics and left a lasting and positive legacy."

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: "He broke the mould of Irish politics and left a lasting and positive legacy."

Limerick city Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea said: "It is well known that there was alot of infighting in FF during the leadership of Charles Haughey, but even those on the opposing side to Des would concede that he had a powerful intellect. He was straight as an arrow with no hint of corruption ever. Des was deeply involved in a number of attempts to unseat Haughey as leader of FF and I supported him on each and every occasion. Had he succeeded, the history of FF might have been very different and I have no doubt that we'd be in a much better place than we are now.

In a message on Twitter, Mr O'Dea said O'Malley faced down a very serious threat to national security when he was Minister for Justice and was a brilliant Minister for Industry and Trade. "I think the State owes him a significant debt of gratitude," he said.

More to follow...

 

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