Photograph Courtesy: Alan Betson/ The Irish Times

Des O Malley was one of the most consequential politicians of 20th century Ireland.

As Minister for Justice from 1970, he defended the institutions of the Irish state, affirming that there can only be only one police or military force that  can act in the name of the Irish people, and those are ones  set up by, and is fully accountable to, Dail Eireann.

 To achieve this he had to display great moral and physical courage, as did his successor as Minister for Justice, Pat Cooney.

His expulsion from Fianna Fail, at the behest of Charles Haughey, forced him into forming the Progressive Democrats. By historical comparisons, this new party was very successful. This showed his skill as a politician, and the way he was able to inspire people.

The most vivid memories I have personally  of Des O Malley,  are of how entertaining, witty and relaxed he was in private company. He had a highly developed sense of humour, and could tell a good story well.

 To all his family, I extend heartfelt sympathy.

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