THE death has been announced of former councillor Seán Kenna, the first Sinn Féin chairman of Dundalk's Urban District Council.
Mr Kenna, who was 75, died on Monday night after an illness. A member of Louth County Council since 1991 and Dundalk UDC since 1994, the Cedarwood Park man was a lifelong republican and trade unionist who made history in 2001 when he became Dundalk council's first Sinn Fein chairman. He retired from the council in 2003.
He served a sentence in Portlaoise Prison for possession of ammunition in the mid-1980s after an arms find at the Redeemer School and became a trailblazer for Sinn Féin, following his release, with his election success. Yesterday, Cllr Kevin Meenan paid tribute to his former colleague, friend and mentor who guided him when he was first elected to the council.
Mr Meenan said: 'I was very saddened to hear of Sean's death on Monday night. It is a great loss to everyone who knew him. I have known Sean since I was a young boy and when I was elected onto the council, I got the benefit of having Sean as my mentor.
'He was one of life's true gentlemen who was able to communicate with people from all backgrounds. I was very honoured to be elected onto the council and particularly honoured to sit beside Sean in the council chamber and learn everything I could from him.
'He was popular with officials and with members of other parties and he was a great chairperson.
'I have often said that Sean was my mentor and I couldn't have asked for a better person to show me the ropes. He was also a great friend to me and my family and I, like many, many others, will really miss him.
'I was fortunate to call up to his house last week and it was great to catch up with him. His death has come as a shock to me and I am deeply saddened by his passing'.
Leader of the party's group of county councillors, Cllr. Tomas Sharkey said Mr Kenna was 'a lone voice' on the county council as Sinn Fein's only representative for a number of years. Cllr. Sharkey said his colleague had 'given leadership, often during difficult times' and had continued to give valuable advice to Sinn Fein representatives 'up until a few months ago'.
Mr Kenna is survived by his wife, Eileen, ten children, and grandchildren.
No funeral arrangements were available at the time of going to print.