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TD Michael wages brave battle against killer disease

A BRAVE politician who has a terminal illness has said he is not going to let his condition beat him "just yet".

Fianna Fail TD Michael Fitzpatrick has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease but insists he will continue to work as long as he can.

The 67-year-old Kildare North deputy has carried on with his job, even though he admits the illness slows him down a bit.

Motor neurone disease is a progressive and irreversible condition which attacks the nervous system and leaves muscles damaged and weak.

About 80 people are diagnosed with it every year.

Mr Fitzpatrick, originally from Cootehill, Co Cavan, has found the power in his right arm to be diminished substantially but he can still type and answer the phone.

He is still "out and about", doing his work, he added.

Mr Fitzpatrick said he is "determined" to keep going as long as he is able.

The TD, who has one son, Daragh, with wife Maureen, is adamant he will not step aside from politics.





Support

"It took a long time for me to get into the Dail. Now that I'm there, I want to stay there as long as I can," he said.

He has received great support from Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan as well as Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

Speaking previously about finding out about his condition, Mr Fitzpatrick said: "The final tests were done one day and I was told the next.

"It is, of course, a progressive disease and I am on two tablets a day which I am told will slow down the progression of it. I'm happy with that."

Mr Fitzpatrick was elected a TD for the first time at the last general election.

comurphy@herald.ie