The Taoiseach paid tribute to his friend, Shane McEntee, during an emotional graveside oration when the Fine Gael TD and father of four was laid to rest on Christmas Eve.
President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were among 3,000 mourners at the funeral of the minister of state, which took place in Nobber, Co Meath.
At the graveside oration, Mr Kenny said: “His reward was never the column inches, never the public praise, not even the number one in the ballot box. It was a problem solved, a life saved, a future secured.
“I wish him in the next life all the love and the kindness and the happiness he gave so many in his life. We knew him, we respect him, and we loved him. Goodbye Shane. We shall see you further on up the road.”
The congregation applauded as Mr McEntee’s brother, Gerry, criticised anonymous online attacks on the Meath East following the recent budget.
“Shame on you people, you faceless cowards who sent him horrible messages on the website and on text,” he said.
“Shame on you. I hope you are not proud of what you have achieved.”
Mr McEntee, 56, was minister of state at the Department of Agriculture. He was found dead on Friday after taking his own life.
He had recently been criticised on social media websites over budget cuts to the respite care grant and comments he made on the issue.
Mr McEntee is survived by his wife Kathleen, children Aoife, Helen, Sally, and Vincent, as well as his mother Madge and several siblings.
Fr Michael Sheerin told the packed church that if love could have kept Mr McEntee alive, he would still be with us, bubbling with life, laughter, and tireless energy.
“In simple terms, Shane was a fine young man, unsparing in his generosity and with his time,” Fr Sheerin said in his homily.
“Images now familiar to us from TV screens reveal him as deeply sensitive over a huge range of issues and concerns — perhaps too sensitive and with too many concerns, as many are now surely thinking, for his own well-being.
“He felt so many things so deeply and was gifted — some would say burdened — with a sympathy and thoughtfulness for others and their many problems that might not immediately show from an outgoing, gregarious, cheerful personality.”
Mr Kenny, former taoiseach John Bruton, several Government ministers and senior Fine Gael figures were joined by TDs, senators and MEPs from all political parties for the Christmas Eve service.
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