Death of Fine Gael MEP Mary Banotti – grandniece of Michael Collins

by Gazette Reporter
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Taoiseach Simon Harris and President Michael D Higgins have led the tributes to former Fine Gael MEP Mary Banotti, who has passed away at the age of 84.

A Dublinliner born in Clontarf, Mary was a grandniece of  Michael Collins, the heroic revolutionary leader who negotiated the Republic’s break with Britain and was  sister of Nora Owen, the former Deputy Leader of FG and ex-Minister for Justice.

Ms Banotti served for two decades as a Dublin rep in the European Parliament  after leaving the nursing profession to work full-time in politics. She was an unsuccessful candidate in the 1997 presidential election, finishing runner up to Fianna Fail’s Mary McAleese.

Back in 1983 she was chosen to contest the by-election in Dublin Central to replace the former Tánaiste and Fianna Fáil TD George Colley, but failed to get elected.  She also ran for the Seanad but didn’t make it before winning an a slot as MEP for Dublin.

Twenty five years ago,  she was appointed as Ireland’s first Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

In her time in Brussels, Ms Banotti was a champion in the fight to combat child abduction.

The Taoiseach described  the late MEP as “a talented politician, a trailblazer and a joy to be around. Mary was a former TV presenter and a co-founder of Women’s Aid, which opened Ireland’s first women’s refuge,” he said.

“She also served as chairperson of the Rutland Centre for Drug Abuse and her work in healthcare and women’s rights was evident throughout her committed and assiduous career in the European Parliament.

“She also focused in on and put environmental issues on the European agenda long before it was the widespread thing to do and was named one of the top 10 environmental legislators in Europe.”

President Higgins said in his statement on the death of Ms Banotti: “Mary Banotti made a very significant contribution to Irish life, both in her 20 years of service to the people of Dublin as a Member of the European Parliament, and through the many important causes which she played such an active role in supporting over the course of her life.

“I had the privilege of personally knowing Mary over a number of decades and had the deepest respect for her principled positions on these important issues.

“Among those many noteworthy contributions and achievements were those she made as a co-founder of Women’s Aid, as chairperson of the Rutland Centre for Drug Abuse, in combating child abduction and in support of the environment.

“May I extend my deepest sympathies to Mary’s daughter Tania, to her sister Nora Owen and to all of her extended family, and to her many colleagues and friends across Ireland, Europe and beyond.”

Ms Banotti is survived by her daughter Tania Banotti.

PHOTO COURTESY OF RIP.IE

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