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Former taoiseach Liam Cosgrave dies aged 97

Former taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, pictured in 2014 at the funeral in Dublin of another former taoiseach Albert Reynolds

FORMER taoiseach Liam Cosgrave has died at the age of 97.

Mr Cosgrave was taoiseach from 1973 to 1977 during the early years of the Troubles in the north.

Among his first challenges was heading the southern government delegation during talks for the Sunningdale Agreement.

The deal aimed to establish power-sharing at Stormont, but collapsed amid violent opposition from loyalists who bombed Dublin and Monaghan in 1974.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar paid tribute to Mr Cosgrave was "someone who devoted his life to public service".

Mr Cosgrave was born in Dublin in 1920 into a tradition of public life. His father, WT Cosgrave, was head of the state's first government from 1922 to 1932.

He was first elected to the Dáil in 1943 as a Fine Gael TD for Dublin County, and served as parliamentary secretary to taoiseach John A Costello.

Mr Cosgrave was elected party leader in 1965 and became taoiseach on March 14 1973, heading a coalition between Fine Gael and Labour.

His coalition government was in power until 1977 when Fianna Fáil won a landslide election victory.

Following the defeat, Mr Cosgrave resigned as party leader, and he later left the Dáil in 1981.

Mr Cosgrave's wife Vera died last year, aged 90.

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