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Tributes for ex-TD who was 'political animal to the end'

Michael Bell: served with Labour for two decades

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny last night led the tributes to former Labour TD for Louth Michael Bell, who died yesterday aged 74 in the Mater private hospital in Dublin.

Mr Kenny said: "I served for many years with Michael in the Dail and I know him to have been a politician who worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents. My sympathies go to his children, Linda, Pamela, Paula and Thomas, his family and friends, and to the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party."

Mr Gilmore expressed his sadness at the death saying: "Michael Bell was not just a mentor. He was also a colleague and a friend."

He said: "He served with distinction as a Labour Party TD for two decades and was regarded with great affection by the people of Louth, and the people of Drogheda in particular, right up to his death."

"Michael throwing his full weight behind Gerald Nash's campaign was a major contributing factor in Labour regaining a seat in Louth. A political animal right to the end, Michael was at the election count, offering his advice and analysis to campaigners and journalists, and I know that Gerald's election to Dail Eireann gave him immense personal satisfaction," he added.

His nephew, Councillor Paul Bell (Lab), the Mayor of Drogheda, last night said his uncle had been "the epitome of a true public servant. He was committed and unselfish in what he did. That was him, it was his life".

Mr Bell was first elected to the Dail in 1982 and held on to what was always a secure Labour seat until 2002.

He was a former chairman of the Labour parliamentary party and was party spokesman on social welfare 1987-1989; industry and commerce 1989-1990; justice in 1991 and social welfare in 1992. He was a member of the Council of Europe from 1993 to 1994. He worked as a union official for a number of years and was a member of ICTU from 1965 to 1982.

He also sat on Louth County Council and Drogheda Corporation, and he was Mayor of Drogheda from 1984 to 1985.

Paying tribute to him, Gerald Nash, who reclaimed the Labour seat for Louth in this years' general election said: "I cannot overestimate the impact he had on the constituency and in terms of breaking the ground for strong, principled and committed Labour representation on the ground in Louth, which remains and continues to grow."

Describing him as a "giant of politics in Louth," he expressed his sympathies to Mr Bell's family.

Irish Independent