Minister of State Shane McEntee dies suddenly

Minister of State Shane McEntee has died suddenly, it has been confirmed.

A statement from the Department of the Taoiseach said: "The Government regrets to announce the sudden death of Minister of State, Shane McEntee TD.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Shane's family and friends at this deeply sad time."

The Meath East TD was Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for food, horticulture and food safety. His 56th birthday was just two days ago.

Deputy McEntee was married to Kathleen. The couple had four children.

Mr McEntee was first elected to the Dáil in 2005 in a by-election to replace the former Taoiseach John Bruton on his appointment as Ambassador to the United States.

He was re-elected in 2007 and 2011 in Meath East and was appointed Minister of State with responsibility for food, food safety and horticulture.

The father of three was born in Nobber in Co Meath and lived in Castletown Kilpatrick.

Before entering politics, Shane was a farmer and agriculture sales rep and ran a pub.

He was involved in numerous voluntary organisations, particularly the GAA, and trained a number of football teams including the Meath Minors and had success at county level on six occasions.

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