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Wednesday 17 October 2018

Death of former Fianna Fail TD who went public with Motor Neurone diagnosis reporters

FORMER Fianna Fail TD Michael Fitzpatrick, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease last year, has died.

Mr Fitzpatrick (69) who won his Kildare North seat in 2007 but lost it this year, went public with his diagnosis in March last year.

A former Garda and auctioneer, he was constituency organiser for Charlie McCreevy for 15 years.

He was diagnosed just after the late Brian Lenihan was revealed to be suffering from pancreatic cancer and earlier this year he made a presentation to the Irish Motor Neurone Research Foundation on his illness, for which there is no cure.

When he went public with his condition in March 2010 he said explained how he realised something was not right: “The first symptoms appeared last November. I noticed that there was something wrong with my right hand, with the power I had. I went to the doctor in December and he sent me into the Hermitage in Lucan on January 4 where I had X-rays taken but nothing turned up.

"Then I was sent to Naas General Hospital for further tests and X-rays and nothing really showed the cause of the problem," Mr Fitzpatrick told the Sunday Independent last year.

After X-rays failed to find out what was wrong he was sent to St James's Hospital where he was seen by consultant neurologist Prof Niall Tubridy, a brother of Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy.

"He sent me to the Blackrock Clinic and it was there that they diagnosed me."

Deputy Fitzpatrick and his wife Maureen have one son, Darragh, a racecourse manager for Ladbrokes in Ireland.

"At one level I was relieved to find out at last what was wrong with me, though at that stage I really didn't have much of [a] clue about Motor Neurone Disease, and what the consequences of it are. I know a little more now. It wasn't a huge shock," he said.

"There is no use going into a corner and sulking because you only upset other people by doing that and I just feel better doing what I have always done and I am comfortable. That's my way of coping and I hope I will be doing that for a long long time to come.

"Prof Tubridy was very straight about it. And I appreciated that. He said: 'Your bloods are OK, your cholesterol is alright, you don't have cancer but you do have Motor Neurone, and it is a progressive disease'.

"He told me that he didn't know how long I would last. He said it could be months or years. But he did say there were people who were coming in to see him five years after they were diagnosed who are in good shape so I would be hoping I would be one of those cases," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

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