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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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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Snippet Contents:

On my behalf and that of the Labour Party I tender deepest sympathies to the Kelly family, particularly Maura and the children, Emily, Peter Jnr. and Joseph, as well as his brother, Vincent, and the wider Kelly family on their sad loss with the death of Peter in January 2019. I am the last constituency colleague left standing who served with him here.
Peter was a politician of the old school and all the better for it. He was dedicated to public service and the community he served. He was a man with sharp business acumen and a very good business brain, so one would underestimate him at one's peril. He was well known in the publican circles and he was an undertaker throughout his life. He developed the iconic Kelly's lounge bar, which was something of a local institution and it wrote a large chapter in Longford's social history until it was finally sold. His DNA was certainly Fianna Fáil and his loyalty to the party was second only to that to his family. He followed in his father's footsteps in politics and became chairman of Longford town council, as well as the county council. He served as party leader there, as Deputy Martin mentioned, from 1985 to 2003.
He was first elected to the Dáil in 2002 from the Longford-Roscommon constituency. He succeeded the late Taoiseach, Mr. Albert Reynolds, serving the people of Longford with great distinction for the next decade. As Deputy Martin said, Peter always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye and it would inform people that he had arrived at the pinnacle of his achievement, a seat in the Dáil. He was a great friend of the late Albert Reynolds and the later Mickey Doherty, whose stories are legendary. He had a great laugh at the time Mickey inadvertently sparked turmoil in the European money markets when discussing Albert. I was here at the time. I do not believe German Chancellor Kohl was too happy as there was trouble with the European Monetary System and there was a market frenzy that took several pfennigs off the Deutsche mark at the time. Mickey and Peter would have had a great laugh at that.
I asked him once how he managed to be voted political rookie of the year at the sprightly age of 58. He always had a self-deprecating sense of humour, which was great. We all know of his pride in Longford; the savage loves his native shore and nobody loved the shore of Longford more than Peter.
I remember a story from his first term and the Fianna Fáil Party leader might know of it. Several Fianna Fáil backbenchers were smarting at the lack of promotions and Peter told colleagues how he met the then party leader in the corridor and addressed the promotion matter head-on. I asked him what he said and he told me that he informed the leader he did not want a junior Ministry, and under no circumstances should he be part of the Cabinet. An impatient colleague, now probably gone, was irked by the mocking tone and quickly accused him of lacking ambition. Peter said he had a deep ambition and wanted to be a Deputy for Longford. He did that and continued to work for the people in Longford. That highlights his love for his native Longford and he remains the last Deputy from Longford to have represented that constituency here in Dublin.
He will be long remembered as a great character, a people person and somebody who both loved and was loved by the people of Longford. As a constituency colleague he had something we should all value, although perhaps it is not as prevalent today as it was in his time. His word was his bond and that is very important to me. There have been famous battles in Longford and Westmeath over borders. Peter knew his borders in Abbeyshrule, Lisryan and Edgeworthstown. He never went beyond Tang bridge, which separates Ballymahon from Tang, so he did not cause another battle of Tang bridge, which happened in olden times. He was a man of his word and a loyal person, even to colleagues of different parties. We all enjoyed his company and his tie was a great asset; it replaced a microphone when the Elvis impersonation was required.