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'A convinced European': Former Labour TD and IIEA founder Brendan Halligan dies aged 84

Uachtarán na hÉireann, An Taoiseach and Labour leader Alan Kelly have paid tribute to the veteran politician.

LAST UPDATE | 9 Aug 2020

THE PRESIDENT, The Taoiseach and the leader of the Labour party have lead tributes to former Labour Party Secretary General, TD and MEP Brendan Halligan has died aged 84. 

The veteran politician had been battling an illness.

Halligan was an economist before becoming involved in politics in 1967 and played a key role in revival of the Labour Party. 

He served as General Secretary of the party until 1980 and was TD for Dublin South West from 1976-1977. He also served as an MEP from 1983 to 1984.

Halligan later served as Chair of Bord na Móna and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and more recently as the President of the Institute International and European Affairs (IIEA), which he also founded. 

file-photo-brendan-halligan-former-labour-party-general-secretary-td-and-mep-has-died-at-the-age-of-84-end Brendan Halligan in 1981 outside the Gaiety Theatre, where the Labour Party was holding a conference on forming a government with Fine Gael.

Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins said that the news of the death of Brendan Halligan will have been received “with great sadness by all those with an interest in politics, economics and social justice, and particularly by his colleagues in the Labour Party”.

He brought to the Labour Party an emphasis on policy, an interest which he would hold for all of his life.

Higgins served in Seanad Éireann with Halligan during the 1970s, but said that it was perhaps during his time as an MEP “that his interest in matters European flourished”.

The President said that “he bore his illness with great courage and patience”.

“Sabina and I send our sincere condolences to his family, and to all those who will have been deeply affected by his passing.”

file-photo-brendan-halligan-former-labour-party-general-secretary-td-and-mep-has-died-at-the-age-of-84-end Halligan at the IIEA Irish Presidency Conference in 2012. Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Labour Leader Alan Kelly said that Halligan was “a proud Labour man who I enjoyed speaking with until very recently about the future of our party”.

Brendan was a fascinating man with a formidable intellect and he was a leading light in the Labour Party who articulated the political vision for the party for more than a decade.
He was key in formulating the leadership strategy of Brendan Corish which culminated in Corish delivering his landmark 1967 A New Republic Speech.

Kelly also called Halligan an “unrivalled political organiser”.

file-photo-brendan-halligan-former-labour-party-general-secretary-td-and-mep-has-died-at-the-age-of-84-end /Photocall Ireland /Photocall Ireland

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that Halligan was a man “who gave his life to politics and the public service with a deep commitment to the institutions of the State”. 

“Brendan was a European citizen who believed in the values of the European Union. 

“He succeeded in facilitating a wide range of view on European and global issues. He succeeded in bringing many distinguished figures to Ireland. May he rest in peace.”

Ruairí Quinn, IIEA chairperson said of Halligan: “Brendan’s contribution to fostering greater understanding of European issues in Irish public life was second to none.

“For over six decades, serving as a Senator, TD and MEP, he sought to enhance public discourse on Ireland’s European identity.  

A convinced European, he profoundly believed that Ireland’s interests, and those of its people, were best served at the heart of Europe. It was this belief that led to his vision for an international and European affairs think tank in Ireland, and the founding of the IIEA in 1990.

“We remain as committed as ever today to fulfilling his vision to generate public debate in Ireland on European issues and international affairs.”

- with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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