President of culture and controversy honoured

10/02/2011

President of culture and controversy honoured

The centenary of the birth of Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, 5th President of Ireland has been celebrated today with the release, by An Post, of a commemorative stamp.

Designed by Steve Simpson the stamp features the Bray-born former president in profile. A specially produced First Day Cover (FDC) shows an illustration of Áras an Uachtaráin. Both stamp and FDC are available from main post offices, or at www.irishstamps.ie.

Born in February 1911, President O’Dálaigh had been a distinguished figure in Irish life before he became President in 1974 succeeding President Erskine Childers. He was a leading champion of Irish language and culture, first Irish language editor of the Irish Press, Ireland’s youngest Attorney General (1946), Supreme Court Judge, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and then judge of the European Court of Justice.

In 1974 following the sudden death of Erskine Childers, Ó Dálaigh was chosen unanimously to succeed Childers and become 5th President of Ireland.

O Dalaigh’s time as President was often shrouded in difficulty. Two years after taking office he used his powers as President to refer anti-terrorism legislation to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality. This prompted criticism from the then Minister for Justice, Patrick Donegan. In the controversy that followed Donegan tendered his resignation to Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave. However the Taoiseach refused to accept his Minister’s resignation.

President Ó Dálaigh resigned on 22 October, 1976, saying that he was acting to protect the dignity and independence of the presidency as an institution. He died just two years later, in 1978, and he is buried in Sneem, Co., Kerry.

The new stamp, may be viewed and purchased, together with its First Day Cover at www.irishstamps.ie, at the new Irish Stamps Shop at the GPO, Dublin and by phone at (353 1) 705 7400.

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