Wednesday 21 November 2018

Council celebrates life of 'iconic politician' Healy-Rae

Kerry councillors Johnny, Danny and Michael Healy-Rae with a picture of their father in council chambers last night. Photo: Domnick Walsh.
Kerry councillors Johnny, Danny and Michael Healy-Rae with a picture of their father in council chambers last night. Photo: Domnick Walsh.
The late Jackie Healy-Rae
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

JACKIE Healy-Rae's grandson Johnny said he was proud the last vote cast by his grandfather was for him.

Mr Healy-Rae was speaking at a specially convened meeting of Kerry County Council to celebrate the life of the former TD for Kerry South, who passed away earlier this month.

Members of the family, including his adult children Michael, Denis, Danny and Rosemary, and their families and supporters sat in the public gallery.

The meeting was called to allow councillors pay tribute to the man who was described as an "iconic" member, who had served on the council for over 30 years after being first co-opted in 1973.

Like his grandfather, Johnny Healy-Rae was co-opted in 2011 to fill the seat vacated by his uncle Michael, who was elected to the Dail that year.

His grandfather had discharged himself from hospital so that he could vote, saying at the time, "I couldn't let my grandson down."

The youngest Healy-Rae subsequently topped the poll in South and West Kerry.

Mr Healy-Rae (83) served twice as chairman but had to leave following the abolition of the dual mandate in 2003.

Politicians from all parties and none paid tribute to the colourful former TD, describing him as "one of the great politicians of our time", with a sharp wit, colourful turn of phrase, generous spirit and warm heart.

In a break from protocol, TD Martin Ferris and senator Ned O'Sullivan also addressed the chamber.

Michael Gleeson of the South Kerry Independent Alliance said it was not the day to subjectively assess Mr Healy-Rae's political life but to recall his contribution to community and Kerry which "were all the richer for his involvement".

Paying a personal tribute, Dan McCarthy (Ind) said Jackie had paid for his parents' wedding.

Norma Foley (FF) spoke of the kind man she knew since childhood, who used always greet her with the words, "How's my lovely girl?" She said she was disappointed when she later heard him use the same term of endearment to her younger sister.

Toireasa Ferris (SF) told her favourite story about the famous politician when he was interviewed by broadcaster Marian Finucane, who inquired if he removed his cap when he needed to scratch his head, to which he responded: "My dear woman, when you need to scratch your a***, do you pull down your knickers?"

Irish Independent

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