Saturday 24 March 2018

Brave TD Nicky McFadden loses battle with motor neurone disease

Nicky McFadden, TD for Longford-Westmeath
Nicky McFadden, TD for Longford-Westmeath
Nicky McFadden and Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett take part in the Oireachtas Christmas Charity Fashion Show at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin in 2012. Photo: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

President Michael D Higgins said the late Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden showed "immense courage" in battling illness following her death yesterday.

The 51-year-old Longford-Westmeath TD, a mother of two children, Caren and Eoin, passed away after a battle with motor neurone disease.

Tributes were paid to Ms McFadden from across the political spectrum. President Higgins said he learned of her death with sadness. "She made an outstanding contribution as a senator and deputy and showed immense courage in continuing her public service after having been diagnosed with a serious illness.

"All of our thoughts at this time are with her family, friends and constituents in Longford-Westmeath," he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he called to visit Ms McFadden last week, just days before her death. Mr Kenny said everybody in Leinster House was devastated by the suffering and the passing of Ms McFadden.

"But we are also uplifted by Nicky's magnificent courage, by her insight into this journey and her ability to make some kind of sense, even accord, with the savage uncertainty of life as lived.

"That she passed away on the feast of the Annunciation is somehow appropriate because today she begins her new life, free of the suffering that marked her last months on this Earth.

"She brings her goodness with her to that place of life and light beyond the darkness."

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said she was greatly saddened to learn of a "wonderful woman" who was deeply committed to public service and her constituents. "She bore her illness with great stoicism, and her loss will be deeply felt both in Longford-Westmeath and Leinster House."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan all paid tribute to Ms McFadden.

Mr Martin said she bore a difficult condition bravely: "Motor neurone disease strikes terror into any family or person with a diagnosis, but it did not stop her bravely organising a number of functions to focus attention on the disease and act as a catalyst to resource research into the condition, advance treatment and, ultimately, identify a cure."

Originally from Athlone, she attended St Joseph's College and Athlone Institute of Technology, where she graduated with a Diploma in Legal Studies.

Before entering politics, she worked as a medical secretary as well as with ESB Electric Ireland.


She was a strong community worker in her local area. She had been the chairperson of the Strategic Policy Committee in charge of planning when she was a member of the county council and was chairperson of the Westmeath County Heritage Forum.

She was also a member of the governing body of Athlone Institute of Technology and was chairperson of the Board of Management of Athlone Community College. She was a member of Athlone Town Council from 2009 and was co-opted to Westmeath County Council on the retirement of her father, Brendan McFadden, in 2003.

She was a member of the Seanad from 2007 to 2011, a Dail candidate in the 2007 General Election, and she won a seat in 2011.

Weeks after being diagnosed with the disease at the age of 49, she told the 'Longford Leader' that she reacted with shock when informed she had the disease at Beaumont Hospital. She recalled that she asked the medical consultant: "Can I have a prescription to prolong my life?"

She said she took inspiration from one of her own constituents who had the disease and from the late RTE broadcaster Colm Murray.

"I value everything now. Everything . . . there is life to live yet," she said at the time.

Her Requiem Mass will be at midday tomorrow at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Coosan, Athlone. Her remains will lie in repose today at Strand Funeral Home in Athlone from 3pm to 8pm today.

As well as her son Eoin and daughter Caren, she is also survived by granddaughter Matilda and sisters Gab and Aine.

Irish Independent

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