Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds is in the “very late stages” of Alzheimer’s disease, according to his son Philip.
The former Taoiseach requires 24-hour care, and he is now unable to have conversations with people, Philip said.
Philip told Shannonside Radio’s Joe Finnegan Show this morning, his father was unable to attend events last week marking the 20th anniversary of the Downing Street Declaration.
He said his inability to attend was a measure of the deterioration in his condition.
Former British prime minister John Major and the former minister for foreign affairs Dick Spring had attended the event. Mr Reynolds’ wife Kathleen represented him at the event.
The declaration was widely regarded as Mr Reynolds' (81) biggest achievement in office.
“Right now he’s pretty bad. He has 24-hour care,” said Mr Reynolds. “A sure sign of that is when you see that my mum was representing him last week. It was difficult to get my mum to come to the Temperance Hall or the Mall (in Longford) when he was elected.
“To get her to go out front and represent him says everything about how he is himself. If he had been any way well enough, he would, of course, have been there.”
Mr Reynolds senior first began suffering from Alzheimer’s disease five years ago, Philip said. He began to repeat himself and ask the same questions “over and over again”.
But the disease has “progressed a long way since then”, Philip said.
Even though Mr Reynolds senior might give the impression that he knew who people were when they came to visit, he wouldn’t remember who the person was afterwards, Philip said.
“Maybe in the quiet of the evening he does. Mum goes in and spends a lot of time with him and sits and watches the 9pm news with him. Maybe he does remember for mum’s sake, because it is pretty sad,” Philip told Shannonside Radio.
Philip spoke about how the onset of the illness affected people’s perception of Mr Reynolds senior, and how he became a “nuisance” to people.
He said "People thought Dad was trying to dodge something [at the time of the Mahon tribunal) but he was actually in early stages of Alzheimers".
He said he went from being someone people wanted to meet to being “a nuisance” to some people.