'Deeply Saddened' By Shriver Death: Martin

Minister Michael Martin has said he was " eeply saddened" to learn of the death of the sister of John F Kennedy.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of former US president John F Kennedy and founder of the Special Olympics died today aged 88.

Minister Martin said Eunice Kennedy Shriver would be especially remembered for her work with sufferers of intellectual disabilities through the foundation of the Special Olympics movement, which she established in 1968.

"Her energy, drive and dedication to advancing the rights of those with disabilities was truly remarkable and will be her enduring legacy," he said.

In a statement, her family said the 88-year-old died in hospital in Hyannis, the Massachusetts town on Cape Cod.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the middle child of nine born to Joseph P Kennedy and his wife, Rose.

Shriver actively campaigned for her elder brother, US President John F Kennedy during his successful 1960 US presidential election.

She helped Ann McGlone Burke nationalize the Special Olympics movement in the late 60s and is the only woman to have her portrait appear on a US coin during her lifetime.

Her siblings include John F Kennedy, who was elected president in 1960 and assassinated in 1963; Robert, a New York senator whose presidential bid ended when he was assassinated in 1968; and Senator Edward Kennedy.

US President Barack Obama praised Mrs Shriver's Special Olympics work and called her 'an extraordinary woman who, as much as anyone, taught our nation - and our world - that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit.'

Taoiseach Brian Cowen joined the sentiments of Mr Martin and said Mrs Shriver always had a special place in her heart for Ireland.

"She was a woman of great courage and an inspiration to

all. She worked tirelessly in her crusade to enhance the lives of those with intellectual disabilities."

In the North too there have been tributes. SDLP Culture Arts and Leisure spokesperson PJ Bradley has said the legacy left by the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver will be felt for many years to come.

"The late Eunice Kennedy Shriver devoted almost her entire lifetime to improving the welfare of the mentally disabled and founded the Special Olympics to give them an outlet to display their abilities.

"There are many thousands of families throughout the world that have benefited from her devotion to the mentally disabled.

"The Special Olympics is her legacy to the world," he said.


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