*John Bruton canvassing with Martin Conway in Ennistymon in 1999. 

POLITICIANS in Clare have been paying tribute to former Taoiseach, John Bruton (FG) following his death on Tuesday.

Bruton died peacefully in the Mater Hospital following a long illness at the age of 76. In a statement, his family said, “”He was a good husband, a good father and a true patriot. We will miss him greatly”.

John is survived by his wife, Finola, son Matthew and daughters; Juliana, Emily and Mary-Elizabeth, grandchildren, sons-in-law, his brother, Richard and sister, Mary, nieces, nephews, many cousins and extended family. He was born in Dunboyne in May 1947.

First elected to the Dáil as a Meath TD in 1969, he remained in the role until October 2004. He was Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997 when he led the rainbow coalition government of Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left.

He was widely credited with playing an important part in Northern Ireland’s peace process in the years leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which largely ended three decades of sectarian conflict. During his tenure he also steered through a referendum that paved the way for the legalisation of divorce and oversaw the formation of the Criminal Assets Bureau.

From 1990 until January 2001, John served as leader of Fine Gael. He held multiple Ministries including Public Service (January 1987 to March 1987), Finance (1981 to 1982 and 1986 to 1987), Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism (1983 to 1986) and Industry and Energy (1982 to 1983).

John Bruton. Photograph: John Mangan

After resigning from the Dáil in October 2004, within a month he was appointed as the EU Ambassador to the United States.

In January 1995, Bruton appointed former Clare TD, Donal Carey (FG) as Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach with responsibility for western development and rural renewal and Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht with responsibility for the Gaeltacht, holding the posts until the change of government in 1997. His Government also helped to fund a new terminal building at Shannon Airport.

Senator Martin Conway (FG) first met when he was college in UCD and was involved in Young Fine Gael at the time. The Ennistymon man said there was “great sadness” at John’s death and credited him with starting his own political career. “A true gentleman, great leader and Taoiseach. A person of the utmost integrity, belief in public service and patriot. Forever grateful to John for his support and encouragement starting my life in politics”. Bruton helped to canvass with Conway when he contested the 1999 local elections.

Cllr Mary Howard (FG) said John was “always great company, witty, wise and courageous” as she expressed “heartfelt condolences to his loved ones at this time”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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