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Distinguished politician and solicitor Richie Ryan

25 Mar 2019 / people Print

Noted lawyer and politician Richie Ryan laid to rest

Former solicitor and government minister Richie Ryan, who died on St Patrick’s Day three weeks after his ninetieth birthday, was praised for his generous public service at his funeral in the Church of St Thérèse in Dublin’s Mount Merrion.

The former Fine Gael Minister for Finance (1973-77), MEP, and member of the European Court of Auditors was a qualified solicitor, following in the footsteps of his father James Ryan who practised in the Dublin suburb of Terenure.

He was pre-deceased by his wife Mairéad and is mourned by his five children, three brothers and a wide circle of relatives, friends and colleagues.

Richie Ryan was educated at Synge Street CBS, where he later said that sharing desks with poorer boys informed his social conscience, and UCD, where he graduated with a first in politics and legal science.

He was an award-winning orator and auditor of the L&H and subsequently of the Solicitors Apprentice Debating Society (1950).

After he was elected in a 1959 Dublin South West by-election, he continued to practise at his own firm on Dublin’s Dame Street remaining an active partner until he was appointed a minister in 1973.

Oil crisis

The 1973-77 coalition governed during tough economic times, including dealing with the oil crisis, and was wiped out in the 1973 election.

Ryan headed the polls in the first direct elections to the European parliament in 1979 and again in 1984.

He later stepped down in 1986 when he was appointed to the European Court of Auditors. 

Foreign affairs

In opposition he also acted as Fine Gael spokesman on foreign affairs.

He was re-appointed by an old rival, Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Charlie Haughey in 1988, and continued to serve until 1994.

He also served as chair of the International Monetary Fund.

As a minister, Richie Ryan pushed through the controversial Wealth Tax Act 1975.

In July 1973 with the Social Welfare Act 1973 Richie Ryan also introduced the first payment to unmarried mothers, at a rate commensurate with that paid to widows entitled to a non-contributory pension.

Ryan’s 1975 Capital Gains Tax Act also introduced chargeable gains on the disposal of property and other assets.

He is pictured above (centre) with former coalition ministerial colleagues Patrick Cooney (left) and Tom O' Donnell at the funeral of former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, in October 2017.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland