Former TD Jackie Healy-Rae dies aged 83
Tributes paid to Kerry Independent politician who died in hospital following illness
Jackie Healy-Rae photographed outside Leinster House in 2010. Photograph: Eric Luke
Jackie Healy-Rae and his supporters arrive in Dublin from Kerry after winning a seat. Photograph: Alan Betson
Jackie Healy-Rae arrives at Leinster House to take up his seat. Breaking from Fianna Fáil prior to the 1997 election the Kerryman surprised the party when he stated his intention to run in the election as an Independent candidate. Photograph: Peter Thursfield/The Irish Times
Former Independent TD for Kerry Jackie Healy-Rae has died. He was aged 83.
He was a Fianna Fáil member of Kerry County Council for decades, but broke with the party in 1997 when he failed to get a nomination to contest the general election in the Kerry South constituency.
He won a seat as an Independent and held it until 2011, when he made way for his son, Michael, who was elected to replace him.
In retirement, Healy-Rae continued to take an active interest in politics, observing something of a family dynasty emerging. Apart from TD Michael, another son Danny and grandson Johnny are members of Kerry County Council.
Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern said Healy-Rae was always “very, very loyal” to the Government he supported. He fought “tooth and nail” for the things that were important to him, Mr Ahern said.
These were” not the huge deals” as misrepresented nationally but essential infrastructure that were important for his local community of South Kerry, he said.
Minister for the Diaspora and former Kerry footballer Jimmy Deenihan who served with the late Healy-Rae on Kerry County Council and in the Dáil said people underestimated Jackie at their cost.
“He was a very clever politician and people underestimated him at their cost.”
Mr Deenihan said Jackie and he 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.”
Dick Spring, the former tánaiste who served at council and Dáil level with Healy-Rea said of him:
“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.”
Fine Gael Senator for Kerry and Government Chief Whip in the Seanad, Paul Coghlan, has expressed his sadness at the death of his former colleague, Jackie Healy Rae.
“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 Dáil and I to the Seanad.
Healy-Rae is to be waked at Healy Rae’s bar at Main Street Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, tomorrow night; removal is from there on Monday, between the hours of 4pm and 8pm and he is to be buried in Kilgarvan on Monday after 12 noon mass.