FF leader pays tribute to two former colleagues who died at the weekend

Former minister Noel Davern and former TD Denis Foley both died at the weekend


Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has paid tribute to two former party politicians who died at the weekend.

Noel Davern, who died suddenly in Tipperary today, served as a minister in the departments of Education and Agriculture and as a TD and MEP. Denis Foley, who died in Kerry on Saturday night, was a former TD and Senator.

Mr Davern (67) was first elected to the Dail in Tipperary South in 1969, winning a seat previously held by his brother, Don, who had died. He was elected to the European Parliament for Munster in 1979 and opted to stay in Europe when a general election was called in 1981. When he failed to get re-elected in 1984, he returned to domestic politics and won his Dail seat back in 1987.

He served as minister for education from November 1991 to February 1992, in the aftermath of an abortive heave against the then taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey, and as minister of state for agriculture from 1997 to 2002. He retired from the Dail in 2007. He is survived by his wife, Anne Marie, two sons and one daughter.

Mr Martin said Mr Davern was “a passionate public servant who never shied away from representing his constituents at a local, national or European level’’.

Mr Foley (79) who had been in failing health for some time, was first elected to the Dail for Kerry North in 1981 and remained in the Oireachtas, serving one term in the Seanad, until 2002. A rate collector, with business interests, he began his political career on Kerry County Council.

He resigned from Fianna Fáil in 2000, following revelations that he held an offshore account with Ansbacher bank to avoid tax. He told the Moriarty tribunal that year that he knew, since the early 1980s, he held tens of thousands of pounds in the offshore account.

He said that while he did not know his funds were being put offshore, when he initially invested with Guinness & Mahon in 1979, he realised it in 1983 on being told the balance of his investment was in sterling.

He is survived by his wife, Hannah, son and three daughters.

Mr Martin said Mr Foley was “a tireless champion for the interests of his Kerry constituents’’.