Tributes have been paid in the Dáil to the late Minister of State Shane McEntee.

The 56-year-old died by suicide at his home in Nobber, Co Meath, just before Christmas.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was a man known for his compassion and gentleness who always acted from his heart.

Mr Kenny said Mr McEntee's loss has created a great void.

He said it was a privilege to work with him and he was honoured to call him a friend.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the news of his death came as a great shock to all and brought home the frailties of life.

He was a true gentleman, Mr Martin said.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams extended his sympathy to Mr McEntee's family and to Fine Gael.

He said he always found Mr McEntee to be polite and that he would listen to other opinions.

Mr Adams recalled being heckled in the chamber by Mr McEntee and the next day the junior minister apologised to him, but said that when his Taoiseach was getting a hard time he saw red.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said it is a difficult day for the McEntee family, saying he knows what it is like to look down on the chamber and hear words about someone you love.

He said he got to know Mr McEntee before he was a junior minister. "You felt better after meeting him," Mr Coveney added.

He said everyone respected Mr McEntee for the way he spoke, adding he spoke to colleagues like he spoke to his brother.

The minister said Mr McEntee was a very popular man with everyone. "Farmers loved Shane because of the straightforward way he did things."

Minister Coveney said that lessons should be learnt about what drove him to his death.

On behalf of the Technical Group, Clare Daly said the late minister was always someone who wore his heart on his sleeve.

She said they worked together on the pyrite issue and that there was no one who did more for the people with pyrite houses that Mr McEntee.