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The late Michael Begley - 'a powerful force in local politics'

FORMER Fine Gael TD and Minister for State, Michael Begley from Dingle who died on Monday, was remembered this week as a powerful force in local politics.

Born in 1932 and a carpenter by profession, Mr Begley was first elected as a Fine Gael TD for the Kerry South constituency in 1969, a seat he held until 1989. He also served as a County Councillor from 1960 until 1991 and as County Chairman in 1966/67. While in opposition, he served as Fine Gael party spokesperson for Gaeltacht Affairs.

Mr Begley served as Parliamentary Secretary (the equivalent of Minister of State) in a number of government departments after Taoiseach Liam Cosgrove promoted him to the Fine Gael front bench. In 1973 he took up the mantle of Parliamentary Secretary with responsibilities for Local Government. In 1975, Mr Begley became Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and in 1981 Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald made him Minister of State for Tourism.

Speaking to The Kerryman this week, Mr Begley's eldest son, Mícheál, said that his father was always a great believer that "politics was local", adding that one of his father's greatest sources of pride was the fact he was able to secure the allowance for those who were institutionalised, after a lively debate in the Dáil with Kevin Boland.

Mr Begley was also instrumental in the reopening of Scoil Dún Chaoin in the West Kerry Gaeltacht in 1973 after petitioning then Education Minister Richard Burke. He also facilitated the purchase of the land which became CLG an Ghaeltacht's football pitch in Gallarus.

Mr Begley was passionate about greyhounds and the GAA and was one of the original directors of the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium. He served on the Kerry County Board, as President of Dingle GAA and secretary of the West Kerry Board and was also a director at Kerry Airport.

As one of the founding members of the Friends of Kerry General Hospital group, Mr Begley was continuously engaged in fundraising efforts to purchase vital equipment.

Mr Begley will repose at his home in Cluais Mór, Dingle this afternoon ( Wednesday) before removal to St. Mary's Church at 8pm. Following 12 noon Mass on Thursday morning, he will be laid to rest at St Brendan's Cemetery, Baile an Mhuilinn (Milltown), Dingle.

Mr Begley is survived by his wife Eleanor, daughter Cathy, sons Micheál and Séan, brothers Jackie and James, grandchildren, sonin-law David, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.