Des O’Malley, who was a dominant figure in Irish politics across four decades, has died aged 82.

Mr O’Malley was less than two years a TD when he was appointed Justice Minister in a crisis-stricken government, hit by a ministerial plot to import arms for the IRA, just as sectarian violence exploded in the North.

He later gained more prominence due to bitter tussles with his Fianna Fáil boss, Charlie Haughey, an enmity that led to him being driven out of the party and founding the breakaway Progressive Democrats in December 1985.

Although they never gained big Dáil numbers, the Progressive Democrats were a huge force in Irish politics, participating in and shaping coalition governments for more than half of their 25-year existence.

Ironically, O’Malley obliged Haughey in June 1989 to abandon a core value of never sharing government, by forming the first ever Fianna Fáil coalition with their previously hated renegades and rivals.