Conor Cruise O'Brien, 91, an Irish iconoclast who led several lives as a diplomat, government minister, author and newspaper editor, has died.

A government announcement Thursday did not give the cause of death. Mr. Cruise O'Brien had faded from public life since suffering a stroke in 1998 and several broken bones from a fall in 2007.

He gained fame when he served as a senior U.N. diplomat seeking a solution to the civil war in Congo in 1961. He resigned within the year to write

To Katanga and Back

, a classic expose of U.N. bureaucracy and weakness.

As a national lawmaker for the Labor Party in Ireland, Mr. Cruise O'Brien bitterly opposed the rise of the modern Irish Republican Army in the neighboring British territory of Northern Ireland.

When he lost his parliamentary seat in 1977, he became editor-in-chief of the Observer newspaper in Britain. He was forced out within three years after criticizing the paper's ownership.

- AP