Friday 19 April 2019

Tommy takes to sidelines in 2019

Hubert Murphy

Long serving Fianna Fail councillor Tommy Byrne has decided to quit politics at the next local elections.

He says it has been 'an honour' to serve the people of Drogheda and district and he will leave the political scene with 'cherished memories'.

He first declared his interest in contesting the local elections in a hand-delivered letter to the Drogheda Independent in 1989, but after the Drogheda Corporation elections were postponed in 1989 and 1990, he contested his first election in 1991 for Louth County Council, as an independent.

That was a time when TDs were also allowed on local councils , but Tommy also won through in 1994 for Drogheda Corporation and has remained in the political game since then.

That 1994 June election day proved rather eventful for Tommy as returning officer Brendan Hoey left out his name when calling out the successful Duleek Gate candidates. He stood and waved at Mr Hoey, until someone spotted the error, and Tommy was then declared!

He was one of the new faces at that election, with Finnian Branigan, Patsy Kirwan and Malachy Godfrey, Tommy polled 662 votes. He became the first independent to be elected in the ward since David Holly in 1960.

In 1999, Tommy was returned again. He polled fourth in first preference votes in the last election (424), although he won his seat ,seventh in line, this time with 339.

In the 2004 election, there were plenty of shocks and surprises but none more so than the dramatic axing of the Mayor Maria O'Brien Campbell and, at the other end, the sensational poll topping performances of both Ken O'Heiligh (Independent) and Matthew Coogan of Sinn Fein.

Joining the unsuccessful Mayor of the time were Finian Branigan of Labour and Sean Collins (Independent and formerly FF) whose vote collapsed.

But Tommy stayed in the game, making it three election successes in a row. His only disappointment lay in not winning a Louth County Council seat but considering that the bulk of his Dublin Road vote base was not in Drogheda West, that was always going to be a tall order.

Byrne's first preference vote was up significantly on 1999 increasing from 339 to a very impressive 543 and when it came to the transfers he got them from everywhere.

He joined Fianna Fáil in 2008 after his son, Thomas, was elected to Dáil Eireann as a Fianna Fáil TD.

'I met some wonderful people on this extraordinary political journey and those memories are cherished forever. It is a great privilege for me to serve the people of Drogheda and district and I thank my canvassers, living and deceased most sincerely for all the wonderful support throughout the years.

'My wife Kathleen of course and seven children were "my rock" during those fantastic political years,' he adds.

'I will continue to work flat out as a councillor until the local elections and will be working for whichever candidates are selected by Fianna Fáil in the elections next May.'

Drogheda Independent