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Saturday 25 November 2017

Tributes paid to former FF minister John O'Leary

John O’Leary
John O’Leary
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Tributes have been paid to former Fianna Fáil minister John O'Leary, who has died at the age of 82.

He was a TD for Kerry South from 1966 until 1997, and served as a minister of state from 1977 to 1979.

Fianna Fáil leader Michaél Martin said his "passing brings to an end a remarkable career defined by his love of his home county of Kerry and his commitment to public service".

A native of Killarney, Mr O'Leary was first elected to the Dáil in a by-election in 1966 and went on to top the poll on eight occasions over 10 elections. He had worked for Kerry County Council before becoming a TD.

In a book published last year, 'On The Doorsteps, Memoirs of a Long-serving TD', he recalled his political life, and wrote that Charlie Haughey could be vindictive and many of his supporters were thugs.

Mr O'Leary had served on the Fianna Fáil frontbench alongside Mr Haughey in 1975 under Jack Lynch. He was then appointed as minister of state at the Department of Environment when Fianna Fáil returned to power in 1977.

However, when Mr Haughey took over as leader of the party in 1979, Mr O'Leary was demoted.

"He didn't always see eye to eye with the then Taoiseach Charlie Haughey and fiercely fought his corner in the constituency but always remained fully committed to politics as a means to better the lot of ordinary working people in Ireland," said Mr Martin.

Mr O'Leary was the longest-ever serving TD for Kerry South and served under Jack Lynch, Charlie Haughey, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern.

His wife Judy passed away in 1989. He is survived by seven sons and 10 grandchildren.

Irish Independent

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