Ex-Labour minister Keating dies


The death has taken place of former Labour Party minister Justin Keating.

Mr Keating died at his home near Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare, last night. He was 79.

Born in Dublin on January 7th, 1930, he was son of the well-known painter Sean Keating and grew up in a household dominated by the arts and politics.

He was educated at Sandford Park, UCD and at London University, and became a lecturer in the UCD veterinary faculty in 1955, moving to the Trinity part of that shared establishment in 1960.

He became head of agricultural programmes in RTÉ in 1965, writing and presenting the Telefís Feirme series, before returning to Trinity two years later.

He was first elected to the Dáil in 1969 as a Labour TD for Dublin North County. He served in the coalition government under taoiseach Liam Cosgrave as minister for industry and commerce from 1973 to 1977. He was appointed an MEP from the Oireachtas in 1973.

Mr Keating lost his Dáil seat in Fianna Fáil's landslide victory at the 1977 general election, but was subsequently elected to the Seanad on the agricultural panel, where he served until 1981.

In later years, Mr Keating was president of the Irish Association of Humanists.

After the second World War, he met Loretta Wine, an accomplished music student, and they married in Caxton Hall, London. They had a son, David, and two daughters, Carla and Eilis. They later divorced.

In 2005, he married Barbara Hussey, a solicitor specialising in family law. 

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore today paid tribute to Mr Keating, describing him as an “exceptionally able and talented individual who always used his considerable intellectual powers for the betterment of others”.

He said Mr Keating was one of the new wave of TDs, first elected in 1969, who brought new life and vigour to Irish politics.

“Justin served with distinction as Minister for Industry and Commerce between 1973 and 1977, a period during which the country faced huge economic difficulties as a result of the oil crisis,” he said.

"Prior to entering politics he had a distinguished career as a senior lecturer in veterinary medicine. He was also an innovating and award winning broadcaster in the early days of RTÉ,” Mr Gilmore said. "Justin retained his interest in public affairs right up to his death through his membership of the Labour Party and his role as President of the Irish Association of Humanists. On behalf of the Labour Party I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to Justin's family and friends."

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Mr Keating “was a man of deep principles who worked tirelessly in the Department of Industry and Commerce, and I deeply regret his passing”.

Former taoiseach John Bruton said Mr Keating was a man of deep and sincere conviction, whose work as minister for industry and commerce laid the foundation, in difficult times, for Ireland's subsequent modernisation through overseas investment. “It was my privilege to serve as his Parliamentary Secretary from 1975 to 1977,” the former Fine Gael leader said “He was a considerate and fair person to work for, and he was always willing to give a hearing to views other than his own.”

Atheist Ireland chairman Michael Nugent expressed his organisation’s condolences to Mr Keating’s family. “He was a longtime campaigner for a rational, ethical and secular Ireland,” Mr Nugent said.