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Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Published at 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Former Irish PM Lynch dies

Jack Lynch:Taoiseach when NI Troubles began in 1969

Tributes have been paid to the former Republic of Ireland prime minister Jack Lynch who has died in Dublin aged 82.

BBC NI Political Correspondent Martina Purdey: Tributes have been paide to politician known as "wonder man"
Current Taoiseach Bertie Ahern led the tributes to his Fianna Fail predecessor who served two terms as premier during the 1960s and 1970s.

Mr Ahern said: "His firm leadership saw the nation safely through a period of great political tension and turbulence."

Mr Lynch was Taoiseach when the current Troubles broke out in 1969 and sparked controversy at the time when he said the republic "would not stand idly by".

The former Taoiseach played a huge role at a very crucial moment in Irish history according to Social and Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) deputy leader Seamus Mallon.

"He will be remembered for his sense of judgement and for leading the Irish people into a rational position at an emotive time and in a very dangerous context."

Born in Cork City in 1917, Mr Lynch first came to prominence when he captained the county's hurling team to All Ireland glory during the 1940s. He also won an All Ireland gaelic football medal.

His sporting success paved his way to a successful political career.

Confronted 'hawkish' elements

He served in a number of portfolios including education and finance in the Fianna Fail government led by Sean Lemass during the early 1960s.

He was elected to the Fianna Fail leadership after Mr Lemass retired.

When the present Troubles began in Northern Ireland, he said on television that the Republic would not "stand by".

[ image: Charles Haughey - sacked over alleged arms to Northern Ireland plot role]
Charles Haughey - sacked over alleged arms to Northern Ireland plot role
He had to confront the more hawkish elements within his own cabinet and was forced to sack two ministers, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, when reports emerged alleging their involvment in a plot to smuggle arms into Northern Ireland.

He was Taoiseaach when the Republic joined the then European Economic Community in 1973 but went into opposition after that year's general election.

BBC NI Dublin Correspondent, Shane Harrison: "Jack Lynch was Taoiseach when Northern Ireland erupted in 1969"
Fianna Fail returned to power in 1977 and Mr Lynch served a further two years as Taoiseach.

In 1979 he retired and was succeeded by Mr Haughey, the man he had sacked from his cabinet 10 years earlier.

Shortly afterwards, he retired from public life although he served on a number of boards of directors for companies such as Irish Distillers Ltd.

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