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Former Fianna Fáil MEP and minister dies

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Mark Killilea: Haughey supporter. Photo: NPA/Independent Collection

Mark Killilea: Haughey supporter. Photo: NPA/Independent Collection

Mark Killilea: Haughey supporter. Photo: NPA/Independent Collection

Former Connacht/Ulster MEP Mark Killilea died yesterday.

The native of Tuam, Co Galway, served as a Fiana Fáil TD and senator as well as MEP during a distinguished 30-year career in politics.

Mr Killilea began his Fianna Fáil career in the Seanad, when he was elected as part of the labour panel in 1969 before being re-elected in 1973.

He failed in his first bid at election to Dáil Éireann when he stood in Galway North-East at the 1973 general election.

But he won a seat in the new Galway East constituency at the 1977 general election.

The election was a landslide for Fianna Fáil and in particular showed the popularity of the party leader Jack Lynch.

However, after just two years Lynch's fortunes had changed and, along with Jackie Fahey, Tom McEllistrim, Seán Doherty and Albert Reynolds, Mr Killilea was in the so-called "gang of five" that lobbied for Charles Haughey in the event of Lynch's retirement.

Mr Haughey went on to win the leadership contest and became Taoiseach in December 1979.

Mr Killilea was rewarded for his loyalty by being appointed Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs - a post he held until Fianna Fáil's defeat at the 1981 general election.

He was then elected to the Seanad where he served until 1987. After Ray MacSharry retired from the European Parliament in 1987, Mr Killilea was appointed as his replacement in the Connacht/Ulster constituency, holding the seat at the 1989 and 1994 European Parliament elections before retiring in 1999.

He is survived by his wife, Ann, who he married in 1966.

Irish Independent