‘A deeply committed politician’: Tributes paid following death of John Bruton

‘A deeply committed politician’: Tributes paid following death of John Bruton

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has led the tributes following the death of former Taoiseach John Bruton.

The Fine Gael politician, who served as Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997, died this morning following a long battle with illness, his family confirmed.

"He died peacefully in the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin, surrounded by his loving family, early this morning following a long illness,” they said.

Then Taoiseach John Bruton speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington after participated in bi-lateral talks with US President Bill Clinton in 1995

Born in Dunboyne in Co. Meath, the 76-year-old was leader of Fine Gael from 1990 to 2001.

In 2002 he was re-elected to the Dáil but resigned his seat two years later, on October 31, 2004.

He was then appointed as the EU Ambassador to the United States.

As a former Taoiseach Mr Bruton was a member of President Higgins Council of State.

Today the President sent his “deepest sympathies” to the Bruton family.

John Bruton pictured at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in 1986

“It is with sadness that I have learned of the death of Council of State member and former Taoiseach, John Bruton,” he said.

“May I send my deepest sympathies to John’s wife Finola, to his children Matthew, Juliana, Emily and Mary-Elizabeth, and to all of his family.”

The President recalled the time he spent working as a TD alongside Mr Bruton.

“It was a privilege to serve as a member of Dáil Éireann and of Cabinet with John and, in particular, when he served as a very energetic Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997,” he said.

“John Bruton was a deeply committed politician, who demonstrated a life-long interest and engagement in public affairs and public service both in Ireland and internationally,” he added.

US President Bill Clinton speaks to reporters alongsdie then European Commission President Jacques Santer and then Taoiseach John Bruton during a press conference at the White House in Washington in December 1995

President Higgins went on to recall Mr Bruton’s contribution to bringing peace to Northern Ireland.

“His contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process during his time as Taoiseach was very significant. In this work, he brought a particular sensitivity and a generous approach to inclusion with regard to the perspective of the ‘Other’,” he said.

“Together with John Major, his overseeing of the development of the Joint Framework Document in 1995 was a pivotal foundation for the Good Friday Agreement,” he explained.

Former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and John Bruton greet each other at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook for the removal of of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds in 2014

Elsewhere today Tánaiste Micheál Martin remembered Mr Bruton as “a committed politician full of ideas and energy who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland”.

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, described Mr Bruton as a “giant of Irish politics”.

“He encouraged me into politics and always lead with honesty and integrity,” he added.

“He’ll be missed by so many.”