Tributes to 'fearless defender' Calleary as FF man dies aged 86
"Ireland has lost one of its greatest public servants" with the passing of former minister Sean Calleary, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said.
Mr Calleary, the father of the party's current deputy leader, Dara Calleary, died aged 86.
Tributes poured in for the long-serving TD, who was described by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny as a "fearless def-ender" of Mayo.
Mr Calleary was also praised for his "stellar sporting life" in rugby and GAA.
He won election to the Dail on seven occasions and had an unbroken stint as TD for Mayo between 1973 and 1992 and was a government minister for eight of those years.
Mr Martin said: "He served with distinction and honour in the 1980s and early 1990s as Minister of State in the departments of Labour and Public Service, Industry and Commerce and then Foreign Affairs."
Mr Martin also spoke warmly of Mr Calleary's sporting career.
"A fine sportsman and sports administrator, Sean played junior football with Mayo and also donned the colours of Galwegians and Connacht."
Mr Martin noted that Mr Calleary had played rugby under an assumed name due to the long-lifted ban on GAA members playing "foreign" sports.
He extended his sympathies to Mr Calleary's wife Doris, his sons Conal, John and Dara and his daughter Siofra.
Mr Kenny was a constituency rival of Mr Calleary's for many years, and passed on his "deepest sympathies" to the Calleary family.
"Sean was a fearless defender of Ballina and Mayo," he said.
Mr Kenny also highlighted Mr Calleary's outstanding sporting career and said "Ballina has lost one of its finest sons".
Fianna Fail Mayo TD Lisa Chambers said Mr Calleary was "such a warm, genuine man and had a kind word for everybody".
Fine Gael Rural Development Minister Michael Ring also extended his condolences to the Calleary family.
Mr Calleary was a former president of Ballina Rugby Football Club.
Its spokesman Michael Gallagher said there is a "shroud of sadness" over the club's grounds, Heffernan Park.
He said Mr Calleary had a "stellar sporting life" and a "proud political career".
"Sean never lost his love for sport and was in Heffernan Park just a few months ago when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited," he added.