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FF's Killilea served with distinction at local, national and international level

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Grief: Mark Killilea’s sons Donagh and Niall Killilea carry the coffin. Photo: Hany Marzouk

Grief: Mark Killilea’s sons Donagh and Niall Killilea carry the coffin. Photo: Hany Marzouk

Grief: Mark Killilea’s sons Donagh and Niall Killilea carry the coffin. Photo: Hany Marzouk

Former minister Mark Killilea was remembered at his funeral as a politician who had served with distinction locally, nationally and internationally.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told mourners at Mr Killilea's funeral in Belclare, Co Galway, that the party and Ireland owed a great debt of gratitude to his family.

Mr Killilea's father, also Mark, was one of the founder members of the party and served as a Dáil deputy for North Galway from 1927 to 1961.

"The Killilea family are inextricably linked with the foundation of the Fianna Fáil party and the progress of the Fianna Fáil party throughout the decades," Mr Martin said.

"A very active, gregarious man, and I can recall as a young student being mesmerised by the partnership of himself and Albert Reynolds in communications.

"It's hard to credit now that at that stage one would be waiting months and months for a telephone connection. But Mark Killilea and Albert Reynolds changed all of that with their communication plan which transformed the country from a communications infrastructure point of view.

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Mourners included Ray MacSharry and Brian Cowen. Photo: Hany Marzouk

Mourners included Ray MacSharry and Brian Cowen. Photo: Hany Marzouk

"He covered the whole strata of public representation from councillor, senator, Dáil deputy and MEP, and did it diligently."

Mr Killilea's daughter Medbh said her father had been a wonderful man who served his family, his community, his constituency and his country with distinction.

"Dad grew up in a house of politics, farming and food and he fell in love with all three of them," she said. She also said her parents would have been 50 years married next month.

Former EU commissioner Ray MacSharry, whom Mr Killilea succeeded as an MEP in 1987, said his long-time friend was a man who got on with everyone.

President Michael D Higgins, who served with Mr Killilea on Galway County Council, was represented by his Aide de Camp Col Liam Condon, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was represented by his Aide de Camp Cmdt Caroline Burke.

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen was among several former ministers and deputies in the congregation.

The 79-year old, who served as a member of Galway County Council, Seanad Éireann, Dáil Éireann and the European Parliament, is survived by his wife Anne and seven children Eidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín.

He was predeceased by his son Mark, who died in a road traffic accident in 2009, and by infant twin daughters.

Irish Independent