Senior ministers including Leo Varadkar have led warm tributes to Peter Mathews, the former Fine Gael turned Independent TD, who has died after battling cancer, aged 65, writes Daniel McConnell, Political Editor.
Mr Mathews, a banker by profession, emerged as an expert during the financial crisis and was a surprise addition to the Fine Gael ticket in Dublin South for the 2011 General Election.
This morning, Minister Varadkar said he was very sorry to hear about passing of Peter Mathews.
“Ireland has lost one of its true gentlemen,” he said.
Based in Mount Merrion, Mr Mathews was one of a number of Fine Gael TDs who lost the whip in 2013 in a row over the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
He famously waved his rosary beads in a meeting of the Fine Gael party before his exit from the party.
He joined the other Fine Gael departees like Denis Naughten, Lucinda Creighton and Billy Timmins who formed the Reform Alliance.
Mr Mathews decided against joining Renua and chose to serve out the remainder of the last term as an independent.
His decision to stand on his own turned out to be a costly one in terms of his chances of retaining his seat, given the significant redrawing of the constituency boundaries.
In the election, one year ago, Mr Mathews secured 2,021 first preference votes.
Shortly after the election, Mr Mathews began a fresh battle against cancer.
It has been confirmed that he passed away in St James Hospital this morning.
Mr Mathews is survived by his wife Susan, four children and wide circle of relatives and friends.
Other tributes came from across the political spectrum.
Left wing politician Joan Collins said: “Peter Mathews and I did not agree on very much politically. Which made for great car journeys to Ballyhea. RIP Peter.”
Fine Gael Senator from Stillorgan, Neale Richmond stated: “Saddened to hear of the passing of former Dublin South TD, Peter Mathews; an absolute gentleman. Thoughts & prayers with Susan and the kids.”
Brian Hayes, the Fine Gael MEP said he was “so sorry to hear of Peter Mathews passing - a real gentleman who will be sadly missed.”
Local Fianna Fáil senator Gerry Horkan said he was “very sad to hear of the death of Peter Mathews,former TD for Dublin South, deepest sympathies to his wife Susan, his four children & friends.”
While Josepha Madigan TD for Dublin Rathdown said she was very sad to hear this news this morning.
“Thoughts with his wife and family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis,” she said on Twitter.