A Letter from Taoiseach Patrick Bartholomew "Bertie" AhernFormer Prime Minister of Ireland

Eunice Kennedy Shriver RIP

Bertie Ahern T.D. today paid tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver and offered his sympathy to Ambassador Sargent Shriver and the Shriver family on her passing.

"Eunice was born in material comfort and could have easily lived a life of ease on the fringe of her family's fame. But she took her own road in life and it was a road that in its long and fruitful journey transformed not only her life but the lives of tens of thousands of people with a leaning disability.

Deeply inspired by the struggle of her own sister Rosmary and always motivated by a deep religious faith, she set out first, in single summer camp in Maryland in 1963 and then throughout the world to enable, empower and to give both dignity and joy to people with learning disability and to their families.

Her passion for the Special Olympics movement which she founded is one that happily coincided with her great love for Ireland. It was here in 2003 that the world games were first held outside the United States. It was a great gift to Ireland and it was of incomparable value for Irish people with a learning disability.

But Eunice was always clear that the purpose of Special Olympics was not the staging of spectacle for its own sake. It was to leave a lasting legacy of a better quality of life for all with a learning disability.

In the pursuit of that goal she can claim credit for a life time of achievement. She was a great moral force for good that has left a legacy far greater than any she could have inherited. I send my sympathy to her husband Ambassador Sergant Shriver, to her children Maria, Robert, Timothy, Mark and Anthony, to her brother Senator Ted Kennedy and her sister Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith.

May she rest in peace."

About Taoiseach Patrick Bartholomew "Bertie" Ahern

Patrick Bartholomew "Bertie" Ahern is an Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 26 June 1997 to 7 May 2008.

Ahern has been a Teachta Dála since 1977 and he represents the constituency of Dublin Central. Before he became Taoiseach, he served in the governments of Charles Haughey and Albert Patrick Bartholomew "Bertie" Ahern is an Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 26 June 1997 to 7 May 2008.

Ahern has been a Teachta Dála since 1977 and he represents the constituency of Dublin Central. Before he became Taoiseach, he served in the governments of Charles Haughey and Albert Reynolds as Minister for Labour (1987-1991) and Minister for Finance (1991-1994). He also served briefly as Tánaiste after the break-up of Albert Reynolds' coalition government.

In 1994 he was elected sixth leader of Fianna Fáil. Under Ahern's leadership Fianna Fáil led three coalition governments. After È amon de Valera, Bertie Ahern's term as Taoiseach was the second longest. Ahern resigned as Taoiseach on 6 May 2008 and was succeeded by then Minister for Finance Brian Cowen.