President Michael D Higgins led tributes to Shane McEntee yesterday after the junior agriculture minister’s tragic death.
Dáil colleagues, fellow farmers, and sporting groups also expressed condolences after the 56-year-old father of three took his life.
Mr Higgins said Mr McEntee had made an enormous contribution to community and public life throughout his career in farming and agriculture, as a TD in Meath in Dáil Éireann, and to the world of sport through the GAA.
“He will be missed by his family and friends, colleagues in political life, and by the wider community,” said Mr Higgins.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was “devastated at the sudden passing” of a man who “brought great energy, diligence, and enthusiasm” to his work.
An emotional James Reilly, the health minister, said: “Shane was a larger than life individual who gave 100% commitment in all he did.”
Mr McEntee’s road to the Dáil began in 2004 when he was selected as the Fine Gael candidate in the Meath by-election after Fine Gael’s former leader, John Bruton, was appointed EU ambassador in Washington.
In early 2005, Mr McEntee won election to the 29th Dáil. He kept his seat in the 2007 and 2011 elections before being made a minister last year when Fine Gael entered into government.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said Mr McEntee’s “good nature and warm personality will be sadly missed by his parliamentary colleagues from across the political divide”.
Sporting and farming groups also paid tribute to Mr McEntee.
The Irish Farmers’ Association said he had “worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents and the farming community to find solutions”.
IFA president John Bryan said: “Shane, and his father Tony before him, were hugely committed to IFA’s work in improving the conditions of farm families, and this was appreciated the length and breadth of the country.”
Ceann Comhairle and Fine Gael TD Seán Barrett also expressed his condolences: “My deepest sympathies and prayers are with his wife Kathleen, his son Vincent, and his daughters Helen and Sally.”
Trade union Siptu also extended its condolences. “Shane was a man who respected workers’ rights. In recent months, he played an important and constructive role in bringing to a conclusion the long-running dispute at Lagan Brick in Kingscourt, Co Cavan.
“He also recently assisted in ensuring a fair conclusion to the sit-in at the Co-operative Poultry Products plant in Cootehill, Co Cavan.”
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