Page last updated at 08:49 GMT, Sunday, 13 April 2008 09:49 UK

Irish ex-president Hillery dies

Patrick Hillery
Dr Hillery served two terms as president

Former president of the Irish Republic Dr Patrick Hillery has died in Dublin following a short illness.

Dr Hillery, 84, served two terms as president from 1976 until 1990.

He was a medical doctor from Clare and won a Dail seat for Fianna Fail as Eamon de Valera's running mate in 1951 in his native county.

Dr Hillery rose to ministerial office and was appointed minister for external affairs on the outbreak of the Troubles in 1969.

Four years later he served as the Republic's first European Commissioner, but was recalled to Ireland to reluctantly stand as Fianna Fail candidate for the presidency, vacated in a constitutional crisis by the resignation of Cearbhall O Dalaigh.

He was unopposed in 1976, and served another term without election before Mary Robinson took his place in 1990.

He was at one time voted by readers of German magazine Der Spiegel as the world's sexiest head of state.

He was in good health until a recent short illness, and died a month before his 85th birthday.

Irish President Mary McAleese said Dr Hillery made an enormous contribution to his country.

"He was involved in every facet of policy-making that paved the way to a new, modern Ireland," she said.

"Today, we detect his foresight and pioneering agenda everywhere - a free education system, a dynamic, well-educated people, a successful economy and a thriving membership of the European Union, one of the single most transformative events for this country."

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