Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Tanaiste and Fine Gael leader, Leo Varadkar, have paid tributes following the death of a “fearless advocate” of West Cork - former Fine Gael TD Paddy Sheehan.
Mr Sheehan, 87, from Goleen, died yesterday just a week after the death of his beloved wife, Frances, who herself played a key role in his constituency operation for decades.
Involved in politics for more than 50 years, Mr Sheehan was first elected to Cork County Council in 1967 and contested the 1969, 1973 and 1977 general elections before winning a seat in 1981.
He lost the seat in 2002 but won it back in 2007, at the age of 74, before retiring from politics in 2011.
Mr Martin described Mr Sheehan as “an outstanding public representative”.
“He was very diligent and hard-working, and was a fearless advocate for his native West Cork,” he said.
“Paddy had a warm personality, wit and was blessed with a great sense of humour. He was a very decent and likeable man.
Mr Varadkar described him as "a stalwart of West Cork Fine Gael".
“He was a wonderful character, the likes of whom we will not see again. I only spoke to him last week to offer my condolences on her passing. They are together again," Mr Varadkar said.
Former Taoiseach John Bruton described his 1981 election success as "an immense achievement" and said he was a great advocate of the interests of rural Ireland.
“He was in constant contact with his electorate, running in Goleen what is now the only surviving general store and supermarket on the Mizen peninsula," he said.
“His journey to Dáil Éireann each week was longer than that of almost every other TD, but he made himself heard in the Dáil Chamber frequently and strongly."
Sad news today, the mighty & great Paddy Sheehan has passed away this morning. A true servant to the people. One of the finest public representatives West Cork ever had. A privilege to serve with him. RIP Paddy Sheehan pic.twitter.com/WHsBNFfTOD— Tim Lombard (@voteTimLombard) August 10, 2020
It is understood that former Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited Mr Sheehan over the weekend to offer his personal sympathies following Frances' death.
Mr Sheehan championed rural Ireland, and West Cork in particular, with a special focus on agriculture and fishing.
He was his party’s deputy spokesperson on agriculture with special responsibility for forestry until he resigned the position in September 2010 after apologising for his behaviour towards a garda the previous July who had stopped him driving out of Leinster House while he was under the influence of alcohol.
Following his retirement from politics, he continued to work for his local community.
The couple is survived by their four children, Diarmuid, Deirdre, Eucharia and Maebh, and their grandchildren.