Saturday 20 January 2018

Former Fianna Fail minister John O’Leary dies, aged 82

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

FORMER Fianna Fail minister John O’Leary has died, aged 82.

He was a TD for Kerry South from 1966 until 1997 and served as a minister of state from 1977 to 1979.

A native of Killarney he was first elected to the Dáil in a by-election in 1966 and went on to top the poll at the 1973 general election.

In a book published last year, ‘On The Doorsteps, Memoirs of a long-serving TD’, he recalled his political life and singled out Charlie Haughey for particular criticism.

He said Haughey could be vindictive and many of his supporters were thugs.

Mr O’Leary had served on the Fianna Fail frontbench alongside Mr Haughey in 1975 under Jack Lynch.

He was then appointed as minister of state at the Department of Environment with responsibility for planning, roads, water safety, housing, traffic, water and sewerage schemes when Fianna Fail returned to power in 1977.

However, when Charlie Haughey took over as leader of the party in 1979 he was demoted.

He continued to serve from the backbenches until he retired in 1997.

Mr O’Leary’s wife Judy passed away in 1989. He is survived by seven sons and 10 grandchildren.

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin paid tribute to Mr O’Leary, describing him as “a proud Kerry man and ardent Fianna Fáil activist throughout his life”

“His passing brings to an end a remarkable career defined by his love of his home county of Kerry and his commitment to public service as the means to make his county and country a better place,” said Mr Martin.

He added: “John’s remarkable electoral success, topping the poll in eight of the ten elections he contested is a testament to his hard work and to the respect he was held in by the people of Kerry.

“He was the longest ever serving TD for Kerry South and served under four different party leaders - Jack Lynch, Charlie Haughey, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern - from 1966 to 1997 often during turbulent and troubled times.” 

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