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Statement by the Tánaiste on the passing of Professor Kader Asmal

It is with deep regret that I learned today of the passing of Professor Kader Asmal.

Kader was an outstanding man, an eminent scholar and a courageous politician who played a key part in the transformation of modern South Africa.  

He fought for the freedom of his native country – a freedom from racism and oppression.  And all his life he was a brave and stalwart champion of human rights.

Having served as Minister for Water Affairs and Forestry, and subsequently Minister for Education, he retired from Parliament in 2008. He remained to the end an outspoken voice in defence of the South African Constitution - to which he contributed so much - and of human rights throughout the world.

In Ireland, he will be remembered as the inspirational leader of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement and a key figure in political life.  He was an important contributor to the peace process on the island of Ireland.  As Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin he taught many of the senior figures in Irish public life, including past Presidents, Ministers and members of the Oireachtas, as well as leading members of the Irish Judiciary.

I was privileged to have personally known Kader and enjoyed his friendship.

My heartfelt sympathies go out at this time to Louise, and to his sons, Adam and Rafiq.

May his gentle soul rest in peace.