Monday 14 October 2019

Former minister Jackie Fahey remembered at funeral for career where he 'rattled the cages' of government

Jackie Fahey FF
Jackie Fahey FF

Conor Kane

A political career stretching for almost five decades and in which he "rattled the cages" of government and party leadership was recalled as former TD, councillor and minister Jackie Fahey was laid to rest.

One of the famous "gang of five" who helped elevate Charlie Haughey to the Fianna Fáil leadership and taoiseach's office in the late 1970s at the expense of Jack Lynch, Jackie Fahey was a TD from 1965 until 1992 and also a member of Waterford County Council for 45 years in total.

He died earlier this week at the age of 91 and was buried in the graveyard beside St Mary's Church in Dungarvan this afternoon following funeral Mass.

Mourners were led by his wife Ita and their children Seán, Brian, Ciaran, Deirdre, Sheila, Maeve, and Gráinne.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin attended the wake on Wednesday evening and helped lead a guard of honour, along with local TD Mary Butler, as the late politician's remains were removed from Kiely's funeral home to the church.

Ms Butler was also present at the funeral Mass along with members of Waterford County Council including Eddie Mulligan, John O'Leary and Jason Murphy.

Jackie Fahey grew up on the Comeragh Mountains outside Clonmel, on the Co Waterford side of the border, and went into politics at the age of 21 when he was elected to Waterford County Council, "not having known he was even nominated," his son Seán told mourners.

"His father was a founding member of Fianna Fáil and was always being asked to stand, and said 'I will not, but Jackie will'."

He was elected to the Dáil at the 1965 general election for the Tipperary South/ West Waterford constituency and moved to the Waterford constituency in 1977 after boundaries were re-drawn, holding a seat there until 1990.

According to his son, his arrival in Waterford city at campaign-time didn't go down well with the local party hierarchy. "He went into Waterford city and literally spent six months, 14 hours a day, and knocked on every door there."

But he won the seat in 1977, helped by 1,500 number one votes from the city. "He had made a lot of contacts and friends, outside the party. Most of his enemies were inside the party," Seán recalled, to laughter in the church.

"He rattled the cages and he made no apologies for it, because he once said he was there for the ordinary working man. I think he opened a lot of doors for the people."

The long-time politician also sat on Waterford County Council for a total of 45 years.

Nationally, he gained prominence as one of the "gang of five" who pushed for Charlie Haughey's elevation, along with Albert Reynolds, Tom McEllistrim, Mark Killilea, and Seán Doherty.

Jackie Fahey was appointed Minister of State at the Department of the Environment in 1979 and held this position until the general election of 1981. He retained his Dáil seat until the 1992 election, when he lost out not long after the death of his first wife Maura. He was also pre-deceased by their son P.J.

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