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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Snippet Contents:

I welcome the entire Healy-Rae family here today; his sons, Michael and Danny, who sit in the Dáil with me, Denis and John, his daughters Rosemary and Joan, his partner Kathleen and all the extended family including grandchildren, brothers and sisters.
Jackie was co-opted onto Kerry County Council in 1973 following the death of Michael Doherty but was elected to it in 1974 on the same day as my late father, Noel. They were lifelong friends and had great respect for each other. In their time on Kerry County Council, which was just shy of 30 years, Jackie made very telling contributions. His first and real love was local politics. He was an extremely effective local politician. We talk about decision-making and responsibility. In his time there Jackie never failed to pass a budget for Kerry Country Council; he never failed to pass a development plan or any important vote. He was a man of great responsibility. He represented people to the absolute utmost but he was always there to make the difficult decisions, and I have great respect for him in that regard.
Following his election to the Dáil in 1997 he was one of the four politicians who effectively had the balance of power, along with then Deputies Harry Blaney, Tom Gildea and Mildred Fox. He delivered in spades for the people of Kerry. As Deputy Lowry alluded to, from 2007 to 2011, when this country was in serious financial peril and some very difficult budgets had to be passed, Deputy Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae stood up to the mark and took very difficult decisions. They stayed in when others who were in the same position opted out. For that political bravery I will always have the utmost respect for Jackie Healy-Rae.
His quotes were legendary. Talking about the difficulties of people who came to him, he said they were "so poor that they couldn’t buy a jacket for a gooseberry". On another occasion he was trying to draw attention to difficulties around a dump just outside Killarney. At a council meeting he said to the country engineer that he passed the dump on his way to the meeting and had seen rats that were so big they had saluted him. The manager, trying to lessen the effect of this contribution, said he had come in by the same road and had seen no rats. That prompted a witty journalist from The Kerryman to write a headline in the newspaper the following week to the effect that "Rats salute councillor but ignore county engineer".
As Deputy Ferris alluded to, the speech that I will always remember Jackie Healy-Rae for was on the day John O’Donoghue was made Ceann Comhairle. It had everything; it was witty, respectful and politically effective. It defined everything about Jackie Healy-Rae. Others underestimated him at their peril. A day that I know is difficult and reflective for all his family is also a day when we celebrate a great man. His family holds him in great respect, particularly his grandchildren, who idolised him. The legacy that he has left is for me and Deputies Martin Ferris and Brendan Griffin to deal with. It is an unrivalled political machine. While we differ on issues from time to time, I have nothing but the greatest of respect for Jackie and his family. May he rest in peace.