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Home / News / Taoiseach leads tributes to ‘trailblazer’ Tony O’Reilly

Taoiseach leads tributes to ‘trailblazer’ Tony O’Reilly


The Taoiseach has paid tribute to businessman Tony O’Reilly, who has died aged 88.

Mr O’Reilly died in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin today following a short illness.

Taoiseach Simon Harris said Mr O’Reilly was a “giant of sport, business and media and left permanent legacies in all three”.

He said: “He was a trailblazer who aimed big on the international business scene. Through his work in the UK, US and Ireland he forged a path that many other international business figures from Ireland would follow.

“Modern day Ireland likes to see itself as an island in the centre of the world – Tony O’Reilly was one of the first Irish businesspeople to truly believe that.”

Mr Harris said the Ireland Funds, which was founded by Mr O’Reilly along with the late Dan Rooney, had a “transformative effect on the island of Ireland”.

He said: The Ireland Funds is an example of peace and reconciliation done brilliantly from the ground up in communities.

“It has been one of the largest donors to our shared island and the cause of peace and is still going strong. I know Mr O’Reilly was enormously proud of the funds.”

“Tony O’Reilly was a giant and his passing will be felt by the many people he encountered in his long life. My thoughts are especially with his children and grandchildren at this sad time.” Mr Harris added.

The Tánaiste said he was “saddened to learn of the passing of Tony O’Reilly”.

Micheál Martin described him as “a pioneering spirit who had an extraordinary impact on Irish business, sport, media and society.”

“Through the Ireland Funds, Tony changed the global narrative on peace and reconciliation on this island,” he added.

Mr O’Reilly starred as a rugby player for both ireland and the British and Irish Lions.

The Irish Rugby Football Union said on X that a “legend of the game has passed. Our deepest sympathies to his family and friends”.

The British and Irish Lions also paid to tribute to Tony O’Reilly, describing him as “one of the greatest of all the players to have worn the famous red jersey.”




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