Michael Yeats, son of poet, dies


The death has taken place of former Fianna Fáil senator and MEP Michael Yeats. He was 86.

Mr Yeats, who was the only son of the poet and playwright WB Yeats, joined Fianna Fáil in the early 1940s.

He served both as a senator and as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, and was the first Irish vice-president of the European Parliament.

Mr Yeats, who was born in 1921, was regularly involved in events concerning his father and his work, and most recently donated significant items from the Yeats archive to be displayed at the Yeats exhibition at the National Library.

He was also patron of the Yeats International Summer School.

He unsuccessfully stood for election to the Dáil in the 1948 and 1951 general elections.

Following the 1951 election, he was nominated to the Seanad by taoiseach Éamon de Valera. He stood in the subsequent election in 1954 for the eighth Seanad but was not elected. He was a member of all Seanads between 1961 and 1981.

Mr Yeats served as MEP from 1973 to 1979, and was the first Irish vice-president of the parliament in the latter part of his membership.

Brian Crowley, the leader of the Fianna Fáil group in the European Parliament, said last night: "Michael was a great supporter of Ireland playing a central role in the European Union and was also a great supporter of increased power for the European Parliament, an institution he served with distinction between 1973 and 1979." Mr Yeats published his memoirs, Cast a Cold Eye, in 1999. The title borrows from the epitaph on his father's gravestone: "Cast a cold eye/ On life, on death/Horseman, pass by."

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he was saddened to learn of Mr Yeats's death, and extended the Government's sympathies to his wife Gráinne and his family.

He said: "I first got to know Michael after I entered the Oireachtas in 1977. By that time, Michael was one of the most respected and longest serving members of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party."

"Michael's commitment to Fianna Fáil was a life-long one."