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Actor and disability rights campaigner Donal Toolan dies aged 50

Donal Toolan, who has died aged 50. Photo: Patrick Redmond Donal Toolan, who has died aged 50. Photo: Patrick Redmond
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Tributes have been paid to the Irish actor and campaigner for disability rights Donal Toolan following his death at the age of 50 on April 24.

Toolan made his stage debut in 1987 and was seen in productions by the Dublin-based Team Theatre and Fishamble companies, most recently in the latter’s staging of Rosaleen McDonagh’s Mainstream in 2016.

In London, he was seen as Horst in Graeae’s 2004 production of Bent by Martin Sherman at the Cochrane Theatre.

Combining broadcast journalism and political activism, he was involved in several key developments in the advancement of disability rights in Ireland and was a co-founder and director of the Forum of People with Disabilities.

Irish president Michael D Higgins said Toolan had “a rare skill to establish a rapport with all those whom he dealt. As a journalist, actor and campaigner he made a contribution to Irish public life that was of immense value.”

Seamus Dooley, acting general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, described Toolan as “fearless, wise and funny. He was a talented writer, actor and broadcaster [and] a true champion of inclusion with a stubborn commitment to human rights.”

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