Elaine Byrne: A man of ‘courage and consequence’ who lifted the lid on corruption in Irish politics

Through his fearless challenging of the institutions of power in the 1980s, Des O’Malley was instrumental in the modernising of the state and in bringing about the end of the era of golden circles and vested interests

25th July, 2021
Elaine Byrne: A man of ‘courage and consequence’ who lifted the lid on corruption in Irish politics
Des O’Malley, the former Tánaiste and founder of the Progressive Democrats, who died at the age of 82 last week. Picture: Getty

The Church, the state, beef barons, influential businessmen and Charles Haughey’s Fianna Fáil were the very definition of power in the Ireland of the 1980s and 1990s. These institutions demanded, and got, unquestioning loyalty and absolute deference.

Des O’Malley’s stubborn motivation to take them all on, one by one, was simple enough. He believed in a republicanism where the people were sovereign. As he said in his watershed 1985 Dáil speech...

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