I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of a great Irish Democrat, Austin Currie. I am proud to have known and served with him.

As a very young Nationalist MP in Stormont, and later as a founding member of the Civil Rights movement and of the SDLP, Austin showed immense physical and moral courage.

He, and his devoted wife Annita, were subjected to grave intimidation and harassment by paramilitaries from both sides during that time.

His first cause was that of ensuring fair access to public housing in Northern Ireland. 

When he later joined Fine Gael, and contested elections on this side of the border, he brought with him the same passion for justice. 

 He was a very good Minister of State and served simultaneously in three government Departments coordinating services for families and children.

He may not have been successful in his quest to become President in 1990, but , if he had succeeded, he would have been a very good President .