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Tributes to 'friendly and unique' TD who twice held balance of power in Dail

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Jackie Healy-Rae

Jackie Healy-Rae

Father and Son Jackie and Michael Healy Rae pictured at Kerry Council Chambers in Tralee yest as Kerry County Council manager Martin Nolan  delevered the managers report to Council members and a large number of Press & media people.. 15/1/01

Father and Son Jackie and Michael Healy Rae pictured at Kerry Council Chambers in Tralee yest as Kerry County Council manager Martin Nolan delevered the managers report to Council members and a large number of Press & media people.. 15/1/01

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Jackie Healy-Rae

Tributes poured in from across the country for former Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae, who died aged 83.

Mr Healy-Rae held the balance of power during two Fianna Fail-led governments.

Among the first to pay tribute was Junior Minister for the Diaspora and former Kerry footballer Jimmy Deenihan.

He served with Mr Healy-Rae on Kerry County Council and in the Dail and said people had been shown to be wrong by underestimating the man.

"He was a very clever politician and people underestimated him at their cost," he said, adding that he and the late Mr Healy-Rae were genuine friends.

"I found Jackie to be a pragmatic politician. You could rely on Jackie for support. He was passionate about politics and about Kerry," he said.

Mr Deenihan said County Kerry has lost a committed and passionate public servant today in the passing of Mr Healy-Rae.

Mr Healy-Rae was a Fianna Fail member of Kerry County Council from 1974 to 1997. He was rated a gifted party organiser who contributed to many national campaigns and by-elections around the country.

But he broke with the party in 1997 after failing to get a general election nomination and he stood as an Independent.

His surprise poll-topping performance won him a seat which he held until 2011, when he made way for his son, Michael, who was elected in his place.

After retiring, Mr Healy-Rae continued to take an active interest in politics.

dynasty

He was proud of the family dynasty, which has now gone into its third generation with Michael in Dail Eireann, another son Danny and his grandson, Johnny, who are both on Kerry County Council.

And the tributes flowed in from the across the political spectrum for Mr Healy-Rae.

Former Tanaiste Dick Spring served at council and Dail level with Mr Healy-Rae and also paid tribute.

"He was a stalwart for Kerry. He was a man who worked hard long and faithfully for the people of Kerry. He shall be missed," Mr Spring said.

Fine Gael Senator for Kerry and government chief whip in the Seanad Paul Coghlan also expressed his sadness at the death of his former colleague at Leinster House and in the Kerry County Council.

"Jackie was a very good friend for a very long time, despite our political differences. We served on Kerry County Council together for the Killarney Area from 1991 to 1999.

"We were both elected to Leinster House in 1997, he to the Dail and I to the Seanad," Mr Coghlan recalled.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin described Mr Healy-Rae as a unique politician whose determination to advance Kerry.

"I knew Jackie very well and was always very fond of him. Jackie always had a great sense of humour and very dry wit and he never forgot where he came from," Mr Martin said.

"He was also very diligent and hard working. I know his close-knit family will be devastated with their loss.

sympathy

"On behalf of myself and the entire national Fianna Fail organisation, I want to express my deepest sympathy to his family at this very sad time," the FF leader said.

Killarney-based Labour Senator Marie Moloney also expressed her sympathies and paid tribute.

"I knew Jackie on a personal level and in my dealings with him I always found him to be friendly and courteous. Jackie was a respected icon of Irish politics and enjoyed a long history of public service to the people of Kerry."

Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris added his tributes and sympathy. "The Healy-Rae political dynasty, with the election of his grandson to council, spans three generations. He will be sadly missed in the political and social life of the area where he served for decades."

hnews@herald.ie


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