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'Passionate and tireless advocate for children's rights' Norah Gibbons passes away

Tributes have been paid to "passionate and tireless" children's rights advocate Norah Gibbons who died last night.

Ms Gibbons joined Barnardos during the 1990s as a social worker and progressed to a senior management role with key responsibility for Children’s Services. She served as director of advocacy for the charity from 2005 to 2012.

Ms Gibbons was also the founding chair of Tusla serving from 2014 to 2018 and was a member of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. She also chaired the Roscommon Child Abuse Inquiry, co-chaired the Independent Child Death Review

Children's minister Katherine Zappone paid tribute to Ms Gibbons as one of Ireland's "greatest champions of children".

Norah was passionate and indefatigable in her service to children and the State. I worked closely with her when she Chaired Tusla and I admired her determination and focus on establishing our first dedicated agency for children and families.

Her establishment and leadership of Tusla placed children and families at the centre of Irish law, policy and public service. I offer my deepest sympathies to her family, close circle of friends and colleagues," she said.

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan said he was "deeply saddened" to learn of Ms Gibbons' passing describing her as "an exceptional woman who brought her innate judgment, common sense and humanity to everything she did".

"Norah Gibbons leaves behind a tremendous legacy, in particular for the children of Ireland. During her final illness, Norah continued to work to help others, through her leadership of the independent study on familicide and domestic homicide."

"It was typical of her resolute sense of purpose that, in recent weeks, she was keen to ensure that this important work would be completed and I was glad to be able to give her that assurance," he said.

Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly described Ms Gibbons as someone who "worked tirelessly for the rights of children for her entire career".

“Her energy, commitment, and passion for the rights of children in Ireland changed many children’s lives for the better, and she will be remembered by many. We offer our sincere condolences to her family and many friends," she said.

Ms Gibbons is survived by her husband Sean, son Miles and daughter Maireas, her wider family circle as well as her colleagues and many friends.

President Michael D Higgins described Ms Gibbons as an "inspirational figure and a powerful voice" who championed the advancement of children’s rights in Ireland.

"Driven by a profound sense of social justice and empathy, Norah Gibbons has left an enormous legacy, not only for the children of Ireland but for all those who cherish the values of equality that underpin our republic and democracy," he said.