Death Announced Of Former Government Minister Mr Des O’Malley.

Late Des O’Malley R.I.P.

Sadly, the death has been announced, today, of Mr Desmond Joseph O’Malley, aged 82; latter a prominent Fianna Fáil TD and Minister in the 1970s and 1980s (Minister for Industry & Commerce; Minister for Trade, Commerce & Tourism; Minister for Justice under Taoiseach Jack Lynch) and founder of the Progressive Democrats, leading the latter party from 1985 until 1993.

Educated at the Jesuit Crescent College, Limerick and at University College Dublin, he graduated with a degree in law in 1962.

Following the death of his uncle Mr Donogh O’Malley, latter then Fianna Fail Minister for Education, and previously Health Minister, (who in 1969 announced that all education up to Intermediate Certificate level would be free, and free buses would transport students in rural areas to their nearest school); Mr Desmond O’Malley was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil TD in the subsequent by-election for the Limerick East constituency, (Thus his nickname ‘The Man from Uncle’) before being appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Mr Jim Gibbon.

He would later be numbered among the membership of the “Gang of 22” following his disillusionment with then Fianna Fáil party leader Mr Charles Haughey and would be expelled from the Fianna Fáil party on February 26th 1985, over his ‘matter of conscience’ in his support for the liberalising of the sale of contraceptives, then opposed by Fianna Fáil.

On December 21st 1985, Mr O’Malley announced the formation of a new party within Irish politics, called the Progressive Democrats, thus playing a significant role in breaking that mould around Civil War politics.

He was joined by Ms Mary Harney (also expelled from Fianna Fáil), and later by Fianna Fáil TDs Mr Bobby Molloy and Mr Pearse Wyse and Fine Gael TD Mr Michael Keating.

At the 1987 general election, the Progressive Democrats won 14 seats, becoming the third-biggest party sitting in Dáil Éireann.
Among the notable TDs elected to represent this new party were Mr O’Malley himself; his cousin Mr Patrick O’Malley; Ms Anne Colley, (daughter of Mr George Colley); Mr Martin Gibbons, (son of Mr Jim Gibbons); Mr Michael McDowell and Mr Martin Cullen.

At the age of 31, Mr O’Malley was appointed Minister for Justice under An Taoiseach Mr Jack Lynch, and took a tough line with the IRA, establishing the Special Criminal Court and introducing the Offences Against the State Act.

In all, Mr O’Malley assisted in transforming the old status quo in Irish politics; dutifully serving the interests of the state, as a TD, from 1968 until 2002.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.


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