Behind the politics there was a formidable scholar, author and journalist: few Irish books since have matched the quality of States of Ireland; few memoirs are as brilliant as his; nobody else was as knowledgeable on Edmund Burke; and his journalism as Observer editor, and a columnist for the Atlantic Monthly, Irish Times and Irish Independent was prodigious. Perhaps he was wrong in his estimation of the potential for peace and compromise in Northern Ireland, and his hatred of Sinn Fein led him to underestimate the extent to which their acceptance of a six counties solution was a defeat for their primary objective. Yet his penetrating critiques of the despicable Charles Haughey - whose chicanery he recognised more than most in the memorable phrase GUBU (grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented) - and of militant Republicanism were a rational antidote to the self-delusional nationalism of seventies and early eighties Ireland.
We have lost one the greatest Irishmen of recent history. May he rest in peace.
UPDATE: Eamon Gilmore, Leader of the Irish Labour Party, has paid generous tribute to Conor Cruise O'Brien. O'Brien had rejoined Labour in his later years.