Taoiseach in shock as Junior Minister Shane McEntee dies suddenly
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny says he is devastated by news of the sudden death of Junior Minister Shane McEntee, who was a close friend.
Mr McEntee was the Fine Gael TD for Meath East. He was 56 and married with three children.
Mr Kenny described the TD as a dedicated servant of the people of Meath.
Mr Kenny added: "He brought great energy, diligence and enthusiasm to his role.
"On a personal level, Shane McEntee was a loyal friend and colleague and my thoughts and prayers go out to Kathleen and their family at this very sad time."
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who worked closely with Mr McEntee, said he was deeply shocked and saddened by his colleague's death.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at what must be an awful and difficult time," said the minister.
President Michael D Higgins said he remembered Mr McEntee as a colleague.
"Shane McEntee made an enormous contribution to community and public life throughout his career in farming and agriculture, as a TD representing the people of Meath in Dail Eireann and to the world of sport through his involvement with the GAA," said Mr Higgins.
"He will be missed by his family and friends, colleagues in political life and by the wider community."
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said: "He was a true gentleman who commanded the genuine affection and respect of people on all sides of the House."
Mr McEntee was appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with special responsibilities for Food, Food Safety and Horticulture.
He was first elected in 2005 to replace former Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader John Bruton on his appointment as EU Ambassador to the United States.
Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president John Bryan said the farming community was shocked.
"Shane McEntee was a decent, hardworking public representative and farmers were very proud of his appointment as minister of state with responsibility for forestry last year," said Mr Bryan.
"He worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents and the farming community to find solutions."
Mr Bryan added that both Mr McEntee and his father Tony before him were hugely committed to the IFA and its work in improving conditions for farm families.
He said his work was appreciated all over the country.
The IFA extended its deepest sympathies to Mr McEntee's wife, children, his mother Madge, brothers and sister.
Mr McEntee was first elected as a TD in the Meath by-election in 2005, and re-elected in May 2007 when he was appointed deputy spokesman on transport with responsibility for road safety.
The TD was involved in numerous voluntary organisations, and had a particular love for the GAA.
He trained a number of football teams, including the Meath Minors, achieving success at county level six times.