Taoiseach pays tribute to Examiner journalist O’Neill

Liam O'Neill

Taoiseach Enda Kenny led tributes to former Irish Examiner political editor Liam O’Neill, who has died.

Mr Kenny said he was saddened to hear of the death of the journalist, who spent three decades reporting on the political situation in Ireland and abroad.

Mr O’Neill’s journalistic career spanned the terms of a dozen governments and seven taoisigh.

“Liam was a very astute political analyst and a very experienced journalist, having written about most of the big political stories over the last number of decades,” said Mr Kenny.

“He was well respected by all politicians and the political writers who worked around Leinster House and will be missed.”

Tánaiste Joan Burton said she was saddened to hear of Mr O’Neill’s death.

“Liam was a fine journalist, an incisive and insightful political analyst, but most of all, a true gentleman,” said Ms Burton.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Mr O’Neill was a leading political journalist who covered a wide range of stories over the course of a 30-year career.

“He was a well-known figure in Leinster House during his time as political editor with the Irish Examiner,” said Mr Martin.

“Liam was a true gentleman who always gave a fair hearing to people from all walks of political life.

“He regularly met groups visiting the Dáil and would be very generous with his time for them.”

A retired colleague, Jim Morahan, who worked with Mr O’Neill for many years, said he was a very principled person.

“A highly accurate journalist, he confounded other political correspondents when he accurately forecast that Jack Lynch would lead Fianna Fáil to a landslide victory in 1977,” said Mr Morahan.

Mr O’Neill joined the Irish Press in the mid-1960s before joining the Cork Examiner, as it was then.

He was made political editor in 1991 and covered all of the major political events until his retirement in 2001.

Mr Morahan said that Mr O’Neill had phenomenal contacts and his colleagues in Leinster House admired they way he had his finger on the political pulse.

“I knew Liam in the Irish Press and found him to be a very straight-talking person but very self-effacing,” said Mr Morahan.

“His political astuteness and the contacts he had in the political environment were the stuff of legend.”

Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, Cork TD Jerry Buttimer said Mr O’Neill was also a regular contributor to radio.

“He had a terrific voice on radio. His columns were read with much interest,” said Mr Buttimer.

Irish Examiner sports editor and deputy editor, Tony Leen recalled Mr O’Neill as a “reliable newsman” during the turbulent early 1990s.

Mark Hennessy, London editor of the Irish Times and a former Irish Examiner political correspondent, who worked with Mr O’Neill, described him as a fine man and a kind colleague.

Mr O’Neill, a native of Wexford, leaves a wife, Thérèse, a daughter, and three sons.

The family lived in Killiney, Co Dublin, where Mr O’Neill was a keen gardener.

He had been in the care of Dalkey Lodge Nursing Home, where he died peacefully last weekend.

Removal is tomorrow to Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Churchview Rd, Killiney, arriving at 5pm.

Funeral Mass is on Wednesday at 11.30am, followed by burial in Shanganagh Cemetery.

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