Politicians pay tribute to `courageous' Upton
POLITICAL leaders from all parties paid tributes to Labour TD Pat Upton, who died suddenly yesterday. The death of the 54-year-old Dublin South Central TD from a heart attack shocked colleagues in Leinster House and in the Labour Party. They extended condolences and support to his wife Anne and four children, Henry, Paddy, Lizzie and Bob.Mr Upton, who was one of the main critics in Labour of the talks with Democratic Left, became the party's spokesman on communications and sport following the formal merger.
He often held firm views at odds with the leadership and had also been critical of of the party's actions in government when Dick Spring was at the helm.
Party leader Ruairi Quinn said he had learned of the sudden death of his colleague with great shock and profound sadness.
He described Mr Upton, first elected to the Dail in 1992, as playing a key role in the development of Labour over the last decade.
Mr Quinn added: ``He always had strongly held views and never lacked the courage to express them, even where this left him in a minority position or brought him into conflict with colleagues.''
The late deputy qualified in agricultural science and nutrition and before entering politics full-time he lectured in UCD. He was first elected to the Seanad in 1989 and later elected to Dublin County Council in 1991.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern expressed profound regret at the sudden passing of the Labour TD, saying it was a tragedy such a ``fine parliamentarian should be snatched from our midst in his prime''.
Fine Gael leader John said Mr Upton was ``an original thinker, unconfined by political prejudice''.
His constituency colleague, Fine Gael TD Gay Mitchell, described Mr Upton as a decent, hardworking, straightforward and good company with a good sense of humour. ``I considered him more of a workmate than a political opponent.''
Dublin city councillors were ``shocked'' by the news.
The remains of Mr Upton will removed from his home tomorrow to the Church of St Pius X in Terenure arriving at 5pm. His funeral will take place on Thursday after 10am to Bohernabreena cemetery.