Former Fianna Fáil TD Bobby Aylward has died aged 67.
he popular Carlow-Kilkenny TD was elected to the Dáil three times during his political career.
The charismatic dairy farmer was first elected in 2007 when the government of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party took power under Bertie Ahern.
He replaced his brother Liam who represented the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency for two decades before becoming an MEP.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was deeply saddened to hear the news of Mr Aylward’s passing.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my very good friend Bobby Aylward. Bobby was a deeply committed public representative,” Mr Martin said.
“He was a proud Mullinavat man, rooted in his community, and personified the legendary spirit of his club, Ballyhale Shamrocks. That great sense of belonging gave Bobby a wonderful authenticity and made him the man who ‘it was.
“In council, and later as a national politician in Dáil Eireann, Bobby has shown endless commitment and passion for his constituents.
“He was tireless in his efforts to improve their lives and stood up for them continually. Bobby continued the strong Aylward tradition of hard work, delivery and representation for his constituents and gave enormously to the people of Carlow Kilkenny over the years”. he added.
Bobby Aylward lost his seat in the 2011 general election but unexpectedly returned to office after a Carlow-Kilkenny by-election on the same day as the marriage equality referendum in May 2015.
Mr. Aylward received almost 28% of the vote and was officially elected in the early hours of May 23, 2015.
“I warmly remember campaigning with Bobby during the 2015 by-election campaign. I particularly remember his infectious energy and enthusiasm, and the warmth in which he was held by the people of Carlow Kilkenny and his tireless campaign for them during the campaign and afterwards,” the Taoiseach continued.
“I got to know Bobby particularly well during those busy weeks and saw a man who displayed the best attributes a public representative should possess: passion, sincerity, empathy, commitment to his people and his place, a man of great honesty and integrity, in addition to being a tireless activist and champion on behalf of his people and his place.
“Bobby loved his people and they clearly loved him. He loved his county, his country and his party and left his mark on everyone. Bobby was passionate about agriculture and community and rural development.”
He contested the 2016 general election which saw Fianna Fáil boost its seats dramatically after the collapse after the financial crash.
Mr Aylward was named a member of the prestigious Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and he attended a major hearing in which state bodies and departments were questioned on their management of public finances.
The Kilkenny man was well-liked by his colleagues from all political parties at Leinster House.
TDs and Fianna Fáil senators were very sad to see him re-elected after the 2020 general election, as he was still well regarded among party loyalists.
Mr Aylward’s father, Bob, was a senator on Seanad’s agriculture panel for a brief period in the 1970s before he died prematurely while still in service.
He was elected Kilkenny County Councilor for the Piltown constituency twice before entering national politics.
Mr Aylward was a member of the Southern Fisheries Board from 2000 to 2007, the Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly from 1999 to 2004 and the Port of Waterford from 1999 to 2004.
He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.