Tributes paid to late academic and political pundit Richard Sinnott

‘He played a pioneering role in the development of political science in Ireland’

Tributes have come for prominent political scientist and elections commentator Prof Richard Sinnott who has died after a long illness.

He was an emeritus professor at University College Dublin and father of two children. Moreover Sinnott has been praised for his decades-long career as an academic and broadcaster.

Chancellor of the National University of Ireland Maurice Manning characterised Sinnott's work on elections and electoral systems as "groundbreaking and was recognised internationally as such".

The pair worked together at UCD’s School of Politics and Dr Manning described Sinnott as “a wonderful colleague . . . always close to his students”.

He added: “ He was a person of great warmth and integrity. He played a pioneering role in the development of political science in Ireland.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also paid tribute to Mr Sinnott.

He said he was sad to hear of his death and that he was “an outstanding academic and researcher” who “made a lasting impact in the field of political science”.

“My sympathies to his wife Margaret, children and family,” Mr Martin added.

UCD Prof David Farrell said Sinnott was a "mentor, colleague and friend" who will be remembered for many appearances as an election pundit on RTÉ. "He was a pioneer in introducing data-led, political science expertise to the airwaves."

Prof Farrell also said Sinnott was an "outstanding researcher" who led several significant European-funded research projects, collaborating with the top names in political science across Europe and the United States.

Prof Farrell identified People and Parliament in the European Union and Irish Voters Decide among Sinnott's most significant books.

Quantitative research

He said his career was defined by his time at UCD having moved from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) to become a lecturer in politics in the mid-1970s.

“He trail-blazed the teaching of quantitative politics at a time when computer access was limited and rather more primitive than today,” said Prof Farrell. Moreover, he added that Sinnott introduced the teaching of international relations at the university. “Half a century later these two subjects are core to our curriculum.”

He added: “Perhaps his most notable UCD contribution was the establishment of the Centre for European Economic and Public Affairs, including the interdisciplinary masters of Economic Science in European Economic and Public Affairs – a huge innovation at the time.”

ESRI chief executive Alan Barrettsaid, “I’m saddened to learn of Richard Sinnott’s passing. I know many of Richard’s [ESRI] friends will feel the same.”

Prof Barrett added that Sinnott had a strong connection to the ESRI and was awarded a PhD Fellowship in 1976. "He also co-authored many papers with my predecessor as director, Brendan Whelan. "

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