Minister of State Shane McEntee dies suddenly

Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 00:00

The Government has announced the sudden death of Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Shane McEntee.

The news was confirmed in a statement issued by the Taoiseach's office.

"The Government regrets to announce the sudden death of Minister of State, Shane McEntee TD. Our thoughts and prayers are with Shane’s family and friends at this deeply sad time," the statement said.

Mr McEntee, from Navan, Co Meath, represented the constituency of Meath East for Fine Gael. He was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with special responsibilities for food, food safety and horticulture in March 2011.

He turned 56 on Wednesday. A former farmer and agricultural sales representative, he was also a publican.

Mr McEntee is survived by his wife Kathleen and his children Aoife, Vincent, Helen and Sally. His removal will take place on Sunday to St. Patrick's Church, Castletown Kilpatrick at 7pm. He will be buried at Nobber cemetery following 11am funeral Mass on Monday.

First elected at a byelection in 2005 to replace former taoiseach and ex-Fine Gael leader John Bruton on his appointment as EU Ambassador to the United States, Mr McEntee was re-elected in 2007. He was involved with numerous voluntary organisations, particularly the GAA, and had trained many football teams including the Meath minors.

President Michael D Higgins said he was very saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Mr McEntee. “Shane McEntee made an enormous contribution to community and public life throughout his career in farming and agriculture, as a TD representing the people of Meath in Dáil Éireann and to the world of sport through his involvement with the GAA. He will be missed by his family and friends, colleagues in political life and by the wider community.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was “devastated” at the sudden passing of Mr McEntee. "Since his election to the Dáil, Shane has been a dedicated servant of the people of Meath. As Minister of State, he brought great energy, diligence and enthusiasm to his role,” he said. "On a personal level Shane McEntee was a loyal friend and colleague and my thoughts and prayers go out to Kathleen and their family at this very sad time."

Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan said he learned of Mr McEntee's passing with "extreme shock and sadness".

"On behalf of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, I offer my deepest condolences to Shane's wife, Kathleen and their family at this very difficult time. Shane was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. He will be a huge loss to the Fine Gael family and to everyone who knew and loved him. May he rest in peace."

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said Mr McEntee was “passionate advocate” for his Meath East constituents, particularly for the farming community. “His good nature and warm personality will be sadly missed by his parliamentary colleagues from across the political divide,” the Labour Party leader said.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney also expressed his shock and sadness at the news of Mr McEntee’s death. "I’m deeply shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Shane McEntee. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at what must be an awful and difficult time."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described Mr McEntee as a "true gentleman who commanded the genuine affection and respect of people on all sides of the House". He said the thoughts of the Fianna Fáil party were with McEntee's family and with his colleagues in Fine Gael "at this terrible time".

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said he was shocked by the news. "It was with shock that I learned the sad news today of the passing of Shane McEntee,” he said. “My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this sad time."

Former Fine Gael taoiseach and Meath TD John Bruton said Mr McEntee’s death was a huge loss. “He was a man of unlimited emotional, and practical, commitment to any task he took on. It absorbed him totally. No effort was ever spared,” he said. “He was a great success in politics. His victory in the 2005 by election testified to his deep identification with the people of Meath , and theirs with him. He leaves a gaping void in the life of his family, his county and his country.”

Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne, a former Meath East TD, paid tribute to Mr McEntee’s work in the constituency. “We often worked together on local issues and while we may have been political opponents he was always very kind and generous with his time,” he said. “Shane’s contributions to politics, gaelic football and his community were immense. He was popular across party lines and he will be sorely missed.”

In a statement, the Irish Farmers’ Association expressed shock at Mr McEntee’s death. “Shane McEntee was a decent, hardworking public representative and farmers were very proud of his appointment as Minister of State with responsibility for forestry last year. He worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents and the farming community to find solutions,” said IFA president John Bryan. “Shane and his father Tony before him were hugely committed to IFA’s work in improving the conditions of farm families, and this was appreciated the length and breadth of the country”.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president Gabriel Gilmartin said Mr McEntee “had an acute understanding of the farming sector and worked hard during his tenure” while ICMSA president John Comer said Mr McEntee’s death would touch the hearts of families all over the country. “Mr Mc Entee was both popular and respected and his knowledge of farming was complete and hugely impressive," Mr Comer said.

Northern Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill said she had worked very closely with Mr McEntee on various industry matters. “He will be very sadly missed.”