Republic of Ireland news

Taoiseach offers condolences to children's minister Katherine Zappone after wife dies

Senator Katherine Zappone, left, with Ann Louise Gilligan at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, in 2015 after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Picture by Brian Lawless, Press Association
By Brian Hutton, Press Association

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has led tributes to Children's Minister Katherine Zappone's wife, who has died after a short illness.

Dr Ann Louise Gilligan, who taught at St Patrick's College, Drumcondra and Dublin City University, and Ms Zappone married in 2003 in British Columbia.

The couple were veteran campaigners for gay marriage equality and got engaged again on live television after Ireland backed same-sex weddings in a referendum in 2015.

"Dr Gilligan was deeply committed to education and equality, and made a lasting contribution to Irish society, in particular as co-founder and director of An Cosan and through her work in campaigning for marriage equality," Mr Varadkar said.

Ms Zappone said she was heartbroken by the death of "my beloved Ann Louise". "Since 1981 she has been my love and my life-partner," she said.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said Dr Gilligan's work at the An Cosan project had helped transform so many lives in Tallaght.

"Throughout her life, Ann Louise always fought for justice and equality," he added.

"In her passing, she leaves behind a wonderful legacy and a distinctive mark on a more equal Ireland."

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