Tributes have been paid to the Fine Gael TD for Tipperary South, Theresa Ahearn, who has died at a Dublin hospital after a long illness. Mrs Ahearn, who was 49, is survived by her husband and four sons. The Fine Gael Leader, John Bruton, described Mrs Ahearn's death as a tragedy for her family, her friends and her party. The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said that she was respected on all sides of the political divide, and he had learned of her death with great sadness.

She died this morning in Mount Carmel Hospital in Dublin after a long illness. Originally from Golden in County Tipperary, Deputy Ahearn was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1989. She was Spokesperson on Equality and Disabilities, on Energy and on Labour. She chaired the joint Oireachtas Committee on Women's Affairs from 1993 to 1995. Deputy Ahearn was also very active in local politics in her constituency of Tipperary South.

Her remains will be removed to Grange Parish Church near Clonmel on Friday at 7.00pm and her burial will take place after Mass at noon on Saturday in the local cemetery. Mrs Ahearn is the second deputy to die from Tipperary South in the course of the current Dáil. Labour's Michael Ferris died suddenly earlier this year.