Minister Katherine Zappone has revealed this morning that her wife Ann-Louise Gilligan had tragically passed away.
The couple were at the forefront of the campaign for marriage equality in Ireland ahead of the 2015 referendum, with Zappone proposing to her partner on live television after the Yes vote was confirmed.
In a statement, she paid tribute to her "fearless" partner and thanked the team at St James for their care in the her last days.
“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.
The joy of that day was matched for Ann Louise when after tireless campaigning through the courts, the Oireachtas and, ultimately, on the doorsteps we helped secure marriage equality for everyone in Ireland.
“Ann Louise was an educator extraordinaire. She taught at St Patrick's, Drumcondra and DCU. Her exceptional love of children lives on through the work of the thousands of primary school teachers she educated throughout the country.
As co-founder and director of An Cosan, a centre of learning, leadership and enterprise in Jobstown, Tallaght West, Ann Louise demonstrated her commitment and love for the people of Tallaght and the wider communities. Her vision was that education transformed poverty and she believed in the power of imagination to bring about personal and social change."