Deep sadness on death of Niamh Bhreathnach

06 February 2023

Labour Party Leader Ivana Bacik has expressed her deep sadness and shock on hearing of the death of her friend and comrade, former Labour TD and Minister Niamh Bhreathnach and extended her sympathy to her family, friends and comrades in Dun Laoghaire Labour.

Deputy Bacik said:

“I am so sad to hear of Niamh’s death and I want to extend my deepest sympathies to her husband Tom, their children Cliodhna and Macdara, and their wider family and friends.

“Niamh was a true feminist and socialist, and an unstoppable campaigner for equality, and even in retirement she never stopped supporting Labour, including myself personally at the recent Dublin Bay South by-election. Niamh was always a wonderful personal friend and it was my great pleasure to work with her over many years.

“She served our country with pride as a Councillor in Blackrock, a TD for Dun Laoghaire, and made history being appointed Minister for Education on her first day in the Dáil. She played a critical internal role in the growth and transformation of the Labour Party through the 1980s and 1990s serving as Party Chairperson in the early 90s. Further, she played a vital role with Labour Women and was a passionate advocate for gender equality in our politics.

“She was a visionary Minister, laying the groundwork for long lasting reforms with the introduction of a White Paper on Education ‘Charting our Education Future’, alongside the introduction of the Breaking the Cycle scheme providing extra resources for disadvantaged schools, and the transformation of regional technical colleges into Institutes of Technology. However, she is probably best known for the abolition of tuition fees for third level education which has had a profound impact on generations of students and positioned Ireland as a global leader in skills.

“Her vision for education was the central role of the child and ensuring an accessible and high quality education system to allow children to develop and reach their full potential.

“One of her most important, but often forgotten policy initiatives which was met with fierce resistance was the introduction of the first Relationship and Sexuality Education programme, which included the Stay Safe programme at primary level aimed at preventing child abuse and bullying.

“Our hearts are broken to hear of her death, but her legacy of achievement will be remembered by all who knew her.”


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