Friday 19 October 2018

Calleary's dedication to Irish in Britain recalled as crowds pay respects

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin with former senators Geraldine Feeney and Lisa McDonald and Senator Ned O’Sullivan. Picture: Brian Farrell
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin with former senators Geraldine Feeney and Lisa McDonald and Senator Ned O’Sullivan. Picture: Brian Farrell
Mourners queue down Emmet Street, Ballina, to pay their last respects to former minister of state Seán Calleary Photo: Brian Farrell
Fianna Fail TD Jim O'Callaghan. Photo: Brian Farrell
Former minister Sean Calleary in his political heyday

Cormac McQuinn and John Downing

It took three hours for the huge crowd to pay their last respects to a Mayo chieftain of politics and sport.

Politicians of all parties and none mingled with local people who had come to say farewell to Seán Calleary in his home town of Ballina.

The former Fianna Fáil TD and junior minister had defended Co Mayo in politics for three decades and played, and organised, both GAA and rugby for even longer.

Mr Calleary, who died on Monday aged 86, served as a TD for Mayo over 19 years and was a minister of state at three government departments.

He followed in the footsteps of his father, Phelim. His own son, Dara, is a TD for Mayo and now deputy leader of Fianna Fáil.

The party's leader, Micheál Martin, was prominent among the attendees which included TDs Eugene Murphy, Jim O'Callaghan, Anne Rabbitte, Seán Haughey and Brendan Smith. Senator John O'Mahony of Fine Gael and former colleagues were also among the mourners, but the vast bulk were constituents, neighbours and old friends.

One former senior diplomat, Ray Bassett, paid tribute to Mr Calleary's dedication to the Irish community in Britain.

He recalled how on one visit to Manchester in the late 1980s, Mr Calleary objected to filling out prevention of terrorism documents that applied to Irish passengers, leading to a stand-off with police.

Mr Bassett said: "It was our own small way of making a protest about how the community was being treated."

Mr Calleary's funeral Mass takes place at St Muredach's Cathedral in Ballina at 12.30pm today.

Irish Independent

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