TRIBUTES are being paid to the former Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, Cllr Richard Butler, who died this afternoon after bravely fighting cancer.
The 56-year-old Fine Gael politician, who died at University Hospital, Limerick, was very close to Finance Minister Michael Noonan and worked closely with him throughout his career.
He was just 20 went he first starting working with Mr Noonan playing a major role in his success at different general elections.
The pinnacle of his career came in 2010 when he was elected chairman of Limerick county council.
Married to Bernadette, they have two children - Daniel and Susan.
He was a brother of Robert Butler, the developer responsible for many major building projects in the Limerick area.
“He was one of my best friends and he will be a terrible loss not only to his family, but to Limerick,” said former Mayor Kevin Kiely.
“I met him four weeks ago when he was fighting his illness. He was like myself a Fine Gael man. The two of us were among those who helped put Michael Noonan on the road. My only disappointment for him was that he did not get elected to the Seanad, in the last elections. He deserved it,”he added.
Deputy Niall Collins of Fianna Fail was also saddened by the news.“ I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Butler family on the passing of Richie. Richie was an outstanding public representative always working to better his community and county. On a personal level, I was first elected to Limerick County Council in 2004 alongside Richie, as a new young councillor he was a great help and colleague to me always. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Bernadette, son Daniel and daughter Susan at this difficult time.’
Cllr Butler proved to be a very popular and innovative chairman. He unveiled a plaque in honour of Shane Geoghegan, who was mistakenly murdered in Dooradoyle five years ago, not far from where Richard was born and bred, adjacent to Garryowen rugby club.
During his year as chairman he met with President Mary McAleese, the Dalai Lama at UL and also had the honour of representing Limerick when the Queen visited Ireland.
He battled diabetes for the past 13 years, which he found energy sapping especially during his time as county chairman. He was also the first county chairman to organise a charity ball, similiar to the Mayors Ball, with funds going to St Gabriel’s School.
His funeral arrangements will be finalised tomorrow.