Tributes were paid to the late Liam Lawlor in the Dáil this morning.

Mr Lawlor was first elected to the Dáil in 1977 and retired from politics in 2002. He was killed in a car crash in Moscow last month.

Party leaders and other deputies praised his 'larger than life' character, and severely criticised media coverage of his death.

Mr Lawlor's widow, Hazel, and a number of their children were in the distinguished visitors’ gallery.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said Mr Lawlor was a person who was controversial, but he was 'a good guy'.  Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Mr Lawlor was personally a kind and generous man.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said there was a tradition of not speaking ill of the dead, and he would respect that. He said he would have liked to be able to say that Mr Lawlor had used his prodigious talent exclusively for public service and to enhance politics, but he was unable to do so.

Tánaiste Mary Harney attacked the 'appallingly inaccurate reporting' surrounding Mr Lawlor’s death, while Trevor Sargent of the Greens said there was a lot more to Liam Lawlor than what was reported in the papers.

Caoimghín Ó Caoláin of Sinn Féin said printing the stories about the circumstances of Mr Lawlor’s death was unacceptable even if true, but unforgivable when they were not.

Fianna Fáil’s Brian Lenihan said there had been no proper apology or explanation for the reports, and pointed out that no adverse finding had been made against Mr Lawlor by any court or tribunal at the time of his death.

Green TD Paul Gogarty said he was tempted to use Dáil privilege to individually 'lambast' every member of the media responsible for the inaccurate coverage, but would not do so in light of the dignity show by the Lawlor family.

Later, Deputy Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach, in the light of the comments about the coverage, when the defamation legislation would be introduced, and was told it was due in 2006.