'Stroke' has never been far from controversy

Brian McDonald

Published 11/12/2008|00:00

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THE longest serving member of Galway County Council, Michael 'Stroke' Fahy's career has had its fair share of controversial moments.

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Known universally by his nickname, the 57-year-old was first elected to Galway County Council in 1979.

A member of Fianna Fail since his initial foray into local politics, he succeeded in being elected at the top or close to the top of the poll at every local election since then.

He only quit the party in September, 2004 when he acknowledged that he was under investigation by the gardai over allegations about a Community Involvement Scheme alongside his land in 2002 and 2003.

He has continued to serve as an independent member of Galway Co Council ever since.

He acquired the name 'Stroke' after he was omitted from the Fianna Fail team for a forthcoming election in the late 1970s. He travelled to Dublin and convinced party headquarters that he should be added to the ticket -- much to the bewilderment of the local party establishment.

Writing about his success subsequently, a local journalist conferred the title on him -- and it has stuck to this day. He himself has never taken issue with his monicker.

He has regularly clashed with opposition councillors and even drew the ire of his own party faithful in 2004 when thousands of letters seeking support for his local election campaign were delivered in pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes.

His council seat is all-important to him -- even in the midst of his retrial,he was engaged in council business last weekend.

As a prelude to sentencing yesterday, Det Gda Martin Glynn, who had headed the investigation, told Judge Michael White that Michael Fahy was an only son. He cared for his 98-year-old mother at their 70-acre farm in Ardrahan and she relied solely on him.

At the time of the garda investigation, he was in full-time employment with New Ireland Insurance Company and was one of their top salesmen.

Asked about his financial position, Gda Glynn said he was 'an OK man'.

Throughout his trial, he was supported by former East Galway Fianna Fail TD Joe Callanan and by council colleague Michael Regan (FF) as well as by neighbours.

During breaks in his trial, he chatted amiably with the media and delighted in showing his photograph in yesterday's Irish Independent. He even pointed to his 'lucky tie', which he once again wore as he awaited the verdict of the jury.

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