Former TD Paddy Harte passes away aged 86

Former TD Paddy Harte passes away aged 86
Former Donegal TD Paddy Harte and wife Rosaleen pictured in 2006 with his OBE from British Ambassador David Reddaway. Pic: Niall Carson/PA

Tributes are being paid to the former TD Paddy Harte who has died aged 86.

Mr Harte served as Fine Gael TD for Donegal North East from 1961 until 1997, and as Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs in the 1980s.

Government Chief Whip and Donegal TD Joe Mc Hugh says he left a lasting peace process legacy through his cross-community and cross-Border work.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin extended his sympathies to the family and friends of Mr Harte.

“Paddy Harte has left a lasting mark on Irish politics, not only through his work as a TD representing the people of Donegal North East, but also as a builder of bridges," said Mr Martin.

"As Fine Gael Spokesman on Northern Ireland, he was a politician who engaged meaningfully with all sides involved in the conflict. He dedicated much of his life to public service, spending almost four decades in Dáil Éireann and working to further the peace process in the North.

“Paddy was a tireless worker and popular TD, but it is probably for his involvement in promoting the recognition of Irish people who died during World War I that he will be best remembered.

"His determination to progress this issue not only acknowledged the sacrifice that Irish soldiers made in the First World War, it led to the construction of the Island of Ireland Peace Park and Round Tower in Belgium.

“This work saw him awarded numerous accolades including an Honorary OBE and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the National University of Ireland, as well as being named European of the Year in 1998.

“I want to extend my condolences to Paddy’s wife Rosaleen and his 9 children. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis”

Former Taoiseach John Bruton also expressed his condolances saying: "Paddy was first elected to the Dail in 1961 and quickly earned a reputation as an original, independent minded, individual who thought for himself about the political questions of the day.

"He was supportive of the late Declan Costello in promoting the ideas in the 1965 “Just Society” document, notably on social capital investment.

"He was a resolute opponent of republican political violence. Working with Glenn Barr, he sought reconciliation between Nationalists and Unionists on the island, notably through the joint commemoration of the sacrifices both communities made during the First World War.

"This was often a lonely path for him to follow, and he showed great physical and moral courage."

Digital desk

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