President Michael D Higgins has led the tributes to former Fianna Fáil TD and Senator Brian Dr Hillery who has died aged 83 after a short illness.
In a glowing tribute, President Higgins said the news of the death of Brian Hillery will have been received with great sadness by all those with an interest in politics and economics, by those who encountered him in a long life of public service, and particularly by his colleagues in the Fianna Fáil Party.
Minister Higgins said after taking an early interest in commerce and the economy, Mr Hillery went on to make a distinguished contribution as a Senator and TD for Dún Laoghaire, to his mark in the world of administration and finance, serving as Ireland’s representative on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as Director at the Central Bank, as a Financial Regulator, and as a member of a number of bodies providing advice to Government.
“He also held with distinction a number of roles in the private sector.
“Those who served with him in the Oireachtas will remember Brian as always courteous, and as a warm and intelligent man. Those of us who had the privilege of knowing him personally and enjoying his company will hold the warmest memories of him,” he said.
Former Minister of State and Clare Fianna Fáil Deputy, Tony Killeen said Dr Hillery was a highly distinguished academic, a wonderful colleague and a very impressive parliamentarian.
Dr Hillery was born in Miltown Malbay and studied at University College Dublin, University of Georgia, USA, and Oxford University. He was later a professor of industrial relations at UCD from 1974 to 1998.
After a career in academia and politics, he was appointed as Ireland and Denmark’s representative on the board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London (1994-1997).
He served as a Senator from 1977 to 1982, 1983 to 1989 and 1992 to 1997 and a Dáil Deputy for the Dún Laoghaire constituency from 1989 to 1992.
Hillery studied at University College Dublin (UCD) and the University of Georgia and worked in banking before joining the UCD faculty in 1967.He became the inaugural ESSO Professor of Industrial Relations in 1974.
Dr Hillery’s first cousin Patrick Hillery was a Fianna Fáil TD and Minister until 1973, and President of Ireland from 1976 to 1990. Brian Hillery’s father, Tom and Paddy Hillery’s father, Michael were brothers.
In 1977, Dr Hillery was elected to the 14th Seanad as a Fianna Fáil Senator for the Administrative Panel.
After unsuccessfully contesting the 1981 general election in Dún Laoghaire, he was returned to the 15th Seanad, from 1981–1982.
He did not sit in the brief 16th Seanad, but was re-elected to the 17th Seanad in 1983, where he served until he was elected in Dún Laoghaire at the 1987 general election. He lost his seat at the 1992 General Election.
He was then nominated to the 20th Seanad by Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and resigned as Senator in May 1994 when appointed to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
From 1994 to 1997, Dr Hillery was an executive director at the EBRD in London representing Ireland and Denmark.
He then became a director and, from 1999, chairman, of UniCredit’s Irish operations at the Dublin International Financial Services Centre.
Public sector advisory bodies on which Dr Hillery served include the Government Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector (1999–2007), the National Pensions Reserve Fund
Commission (2004–2014), and the Irish commission of the Fulbright Program (2002–2004).
He was a director of the Central Bank of Ireland and Financial Regulator from April 2008 until the bodies were reformed in October 2010.
He was founding chairman from 1997 to 2015 of Providence Resources, a hydrocarbon company established by Tony O’Reilly.
In 2003, he was appointed to the board of Independent News and Media, succeeding Tony O’Reilly as chairman in 2009 while O’Reilly remained chief executive before he resigned in 2011.
He is survived by his wife, Miriam (née Davy), daughter, Cliona and sons, Conor, Eugene, Brian and Gavin.