Gabriel Byrne

Irish acting star, Gabriel Byrne has called for a new leader to “fill the vacuum' in Ireland. The Hollywood star was speaking in Dublin's Mater Hospital for the launch of a new initiative which encourages hospitals to allow people to die with more dignity.

According to the Dublin actor, everywhere people are struggling with feelings of "fear, hopelessness and despair". He spoke about the emergence of a new leader to fill the void but didn't comment on whether he felt Fine Gael's Enda Kenny or Labour's Eamon Gilmore would be fit for the task.

"In this situation you could see a new leader emerge from the right wing or left sphere . . . there is a vacuum to be filled by a leader," the actor said. "I have a feeling somebody is going to emerge who will lead."

The “In Treatment” star said there was a deep sense of anger and betrayal among people.

"The two pillars of the church and politics who people look to for leadership are collapsing," he added.

In recent years Byrne has become an advocate for improving the services offered to dying patients in public hospitals after he witnessed a close friend die in an Irish hospital.

The event, which was organized by the Irish Hospice Foundation, announced significant financial contributions from both the National Lottery and Health Service Executive, which will create more spacious and homely rooms for those in their final hours.

"We don't need to invest millions to improve care for the dying -- a minimum can help change awareness of how the ritual is made as peaceful and dignified as possible," he added.