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Dr Ann Louise Gilligan, wife of Irish Minister Katherine Zappone, dies

Dr Ann Louise Gillian, the wife of Irish Minister Dr Katherine Zappone, has died.

Gillian passed away after suffering from a brief illness which has not been revealed.

Katherine Zappone (R) arrives with her partner Ann Louise Gilligan (L) for the first day of the Irish parliament in 2016. (Photo credit should read PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Gillian and Zappone, who have been together since 1981, were both pioneers on LGBT rights in Ireland.

Zappone described her late wife as her “love and life-partner” as well as an “educator extraordinaire”.

The couple got married in Canada in 2003 before equal marriage was legalised in their home country of Ireland.

However, the pair were heaving involved in pushing the 2015 marriage referendum through in Ireland.

The two also became engaged again on live television after Ireland voted to legalise equal marriage and they re-wed last yar.

Zappone added about her wife: “As a champion of equality, fairness and justice Ann Louise was fearless.

“Her courage inspired us to make the ultimate commitment with our marriage in British Columbia in 2003.”

Leo Varadkar, the first openly gay Taoiseach who was just elected in Ireland said that he was “very saddened to learn of the death of Dr Ann Louise Gilligan.

“Dr Gilligan was deeply committed to education and equality and made a lasting contribution to Irish society, in particular as co-founder and director of An Cosan and through her work in campaigning for marriage equality,” he said.

Other friends and family of Gillan called her a “champion of equality” and “strong advocate for social justice”.

Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “Dr Gilligan’s contribution towards Marriage Equality, and all of the issues she fought for, means that Ireland is a more equal, more compassionate and kinder place.

“I had the great pleasure of knowing her. She was, quite simply, inspiring.”

Brendan Howlin, leader of the Irish Labour Party added that Dr Gillan “leaves beg=hind a wonderful legacy and a distinctive mark on a more equal Ireland.”

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