Rita Childers dies peacefully aged 95

RITA CHILDERS, the wife of former president Erskine Childers, who herself came close to being Ireland’s first female president, has died peacefully at the age of 95.

Born Margaret Dudley, she met her husband, then a Fianna Fáil politician, through her work in the British Embassy.

The Archbishop of Dublin at the time, John Charles McQuaid, tried to prevent their marriage because she was a Roman Catholic and he an Anglican but they eventually went to Paris where they married in 1952.

Erskine Childers was elected president in 1974 but died just a year later leaving the political parties to secretly agree a new deal to make Rita the new president.

But when a government minister inadvertently revealed the plan, a political row ensued and Fianna Fáil, withdrew its support for her, proposing instead the former chief justice Cearbhall O Dálaigh who was eventually elected unopposed.

She later became an outspoken critic of her late husband’s party, Fianna Fáil, and her daughter, Nessa, got involved in politics, first as a Green Party councillor and more recently being elected as a MEP for the Labour Party.

Ms Childers passed away peacefully yesterday morning at Carysfort Nursing Home, Gleneageary Co Dublin.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.

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