Irish President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to former government minister Mervyn Taylor, who has died at the age of 89.
Mr Higgins described the former Labour minister as the founding figure in the movement for equal access for all citizens before the law.
Mr Taylor was elected to the Dail as a Labour TD for Dublin South West in the 1981 general election.
His parliamentary career included contributions as minister, chief whip, Labour Party chairman and chairman of Dublin County Council.
He became a cabinet minister in 1993, before serving as the minister for equality and law reform until 1997.
Mr Higgins said Mr Taylor’s death represents the passing of an “icon in the struggle for equality”.
Mr Higgins added: “A founding figure in the movement for equal access for all citizens before the law, he would go on to become the founding minister of the department of equality and law reform.
“His colleagues in the Labour Party will miss a comrade of the utmost principle, steadfastness, courage and courtesy.
“His passing is an immense loss, first and foremost to his family but also to all those who have worked, and continue to work, towards a more inclusive, more equal and fairer society.
Meryvn Taylor is the man who brought through the divorce referendum in 1995 that helped change Ireland for the better. He must always be remembered for that. We will miss him in the @labour party. Condolences to his family and friends. 🌹 pic.twitter.com/3DhtPhOAZ4
— Alan Kelly TD (@alankellylabour) September 23, 2021
“Mervyn Taylor will be remembered by all those who had the privilege of working with him, as a distinguished public servant who served with such dedication, as one of the most gracious, unselfish and kindest members ever to serve in the Dail.
“He had the gift of patience and attention to detail.”
Mr Taylor was pivotal in introducing the Domestic Violence Act, the establishment of the National Disability Authority, as well as the passing of the divorce referendum in 1995.
Labour leader Alan Kelly said: “Meryvn Taylor is the man who brought through the divorce referendum in 1995 that helped change Ireland for the better.
“He must always be remembered for that. We will miss him in the Labour Party. Condolences to his family and friends.”
“The death of Mervyn Taylor represents the passing of an icon in the struggle for equality…. Those of us who had the privilege of knowing him, of calling him our friend and colleague will miss him deeply.”
Read the President’s statement in full: https://t.co/FmLKs3obk4
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) September 23, 2021
John Bruton, the former taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael, said: “I wish to pay heartfelt tribute to the life and work of Mervyn Taylor. I extend deep sympathy to his wife Marilyn and family at this time of immense loss.
“As a solicitor he gave really valuable service to thousands of clients, always in his characteristic sympathetic and reasoned way.
“He will also be missed by his former constituents in Dublin South West whose interests he served with similar dedication.
“He gave outstanding service as minister for equality and law reform in the rainbow government that came to office in 1994.
“He was a pleasure to work with as a cabinet colleague.
So sorry to hear of the passing of Mervyn Taylor. A democratic social revolutionary who changed the course of history by legalising divorce in Ireland. A gentleman and a giant
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) September 23, 2021
“We worked together on the divorce referendum. He was dedicated and committed to his goals but had a great ability to work together across party lines.
“I was surprised when he retired from politics in 1997. I believe he enjoyed his retirement and it was my pleasure to meet him from time to time. He will be missed.”
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said described Mr Taylor as a “gentleman and a giant”.
He added: “A democratic social revolutionary who changed the course of history by legalising divorce in Ireland.”Internet Explorer Channel Network