Katherine Zappone left heartbroken following death of her wife Ann Louise Gilligan

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Katherine Zappone and Dr Ann Louise Gilligan had been together since 1981 and married in 2003.

Ann Louise co-founded An Cosán with Katherine and through her exceptional work there touched the lives of so many people from this area in the most positive way imaginable.

In a statement released this morning, Minister Zappone said:

“I am heartbroken following the passing of my beloved Ann Louise.

“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.

“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. “

Minister Zappone also expressed her “deepest appreciation to Professor Joe Harrison and the dedicated team at MISA in St James’s Hospital who looked after Ann Louise during her recent brief illness.”

Funeral arrangements will be made public in the coming days.

Ms Zappone was not in the Dáil yesterday as new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar re-appointed her to Cabinet as Minister for Children.

During his announcement, Mr Varadkar said “our thoughts and prayers are with her at this time.”

Everyone at InTallaght sends their deepest condolences to Minister Zappone on the passing of Ann Louise.