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Healy-Rae created the template for Independents to make most of a government deal

John Downing


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Legacy: Jackie Healy-Rae and Mildred Fox at Leinster House. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Legacy: Jackie Healy-Rae and Mildred Fox at Leinster House. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Legacy: Jackie Healy-Rae and Mildred Fox at Leinster House. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Five days after the 1997 General Election, Jackie Healy-Rae got off the Kerry train in Dublin, and was met by the Fianna Fáil senator and businessman Donie Cassidy.

He was chauffeured to Leinster House in Cassidy's black Mercedes car where a phalanx of curious media wanted to hear what he had to say before he met Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern to discuss the price of his Dáil vote.

The Kilgarvan man was extremely measured in what he had to say. He could be forgiven the only bragging note that he was proud to have been able to take on the resources of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Labour and emerge at the head of the poll with 7,220 first preference votes.