TDS HAVE TODAY paid tribute to former ceann comhairle and health minister Dr John O’Connell, who died this morning at the age of 83.
O’Connell was first elected to the Dáil in 1965 as a Labour TD in Dublin South West but following disagreements with the party he returned to elections as a Fianna Fáil TD and later independent in the Dublin South-Central constituency.
He became ceann comhairle in 1981 and in 1992 was appointed minister for health by Taoiseach Albert Reynolds.
Today Minister for Health, James Reilly, described O’Connell as a “major figure in the world of medicine and in the world of politics”.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that he was “saddened” to hear of the former Labour party TD’s death. Gilmore said that although O’Connell “parted company” with Labour in 1981, “he always endeavoured to remain on good terms with his former colleagues and retained a sense shared values with, particularly when it came to social issues”.
Eric Byrne, who succeeded O’Connell in Dublin South Central following his retirement, said he was a “tireless advocate” for the people of his consituency.
“I know that he was deeply honoured to have been elected as minister for health and brought his grit and steely determination to this role, and will be remembered for the part he played in ensuring that the law regarding contraception was liberalised in Ireland,” he said.