Quinn had ‘unshakeable’ commitment to make State better - Burton

Minister hailed as ‘great statesman’ while opponents highlight ‘mistakes’

Politicians from Labour and other parties have paid tribute to the outgoing Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, who has announced his decision to step down . Photograph: Frank Miller /	The Irish Times

Politicians from Labour and other parties have paid tribute to the outgoing Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, who has announced his decision to step down . Photograph: Frank Miller / The Irish Times

Wed, Jul 2, 2014, 17:45

Politicians from Labour and other parties have paid tribute to the outgoing Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, who has announced his decision to step down will coincide with the reshuffle which is expected next week.

Minister for Social Protection and candidate for the Labour leadership, Joan Burton, thanked him for his service to the party and to public life.

His “commitment to making Ireland a better country for its citizens was unshakeable,” Ms Burton said.

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As finance minister in the 1990s he “charted the course to economic prosperity with remarkable skill and steadiness,” she said. As education minister his contribution was “immense she said.

In his career he reflected the “very best values of Labour” and his legacy will be “lasting”, she said.

Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White, also a candidate for the party leadership, said history would look favourably on Mr Quinn’s career.

“Ruairí has had a long and illustrious ministerial career. History will look favourably on him during his time not only as Minister for Education and Skills, but also during his periods as Minister in the Departments of Finance, Enterprise and Employment, Public Service and Labour.”

Mr Quinn’s junior minister at the Department of Education, Minister of State for research and innovation Seán Sherlock, described the Minister as a “great statesman”.

“I am very sorry to learn that Ruairí is leaving. He has been an excellent Minister, and I know whoever steps into the breach will have to continue his reforms he has championed since 2011,” Mr Sherlock said.

“He has proved himself as a politician and as a great statesman, and I believe that history will be kind to him. As a serving Minister in that Department, I believe whoever is chosen to succeed Ruairí will continue on with the reforms he instigated.”

Labour Party chief whip Emmet Stagg has told RTÉ Mr Quinn would leave behind a “lifetime of service” and “a really excellent record”. Mr Stagg said the outgoing Minister had done an “excellent job” in the Department of Education.

However, Mr Stagg said there was a “great flow of ageism” in commentary about the reshuffle.

Labour Dublin Bay North deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said he was sad to witness Mr Quinn’s announcement, and described the outgoing Minister as “one of my political heroes”.

Mr Ó Ríordáin said Mr Quinn’s “reforming zeal” as Education Minister was unparalleled.

“His political achievements are too numerous to mention as his tenure in Dáil Éireann began the year after I was born, but he will be regarded in history as a visionary and reforming politician and the ultimate statesman,” he said.