Belfast Telegraph

Former TD Jackie Healy-Rae dies

Former Independent TD for Kerry South Jackie Healy-Rae has died at the age of 83.

The colourful public representative headed a political dynasty which includes his son Michael, who succeeded him as a TD for Kerry South.

Friends and colleagues said he was big-hearted and a one-off.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said: "He was a unique politician and he captured the imagination of the people of Kerry and across Ireland with his story-telling and his sheer determination to improve services in South Kerry."

Mr Healy-Rae was a Fianna Fail member of Kerry County Council for decades but broke with the party in 1997 when he failed to win 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.

He voted for Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach in 1997 and 2007, and supported the Fianna Fail-Green Party-Progressive Democrat coalition in the 30th Dail.

Mr Martin added: "Jackie always had a great sense of humour and very dry wit and he never forgot where he came from. He was also very diligent and hard-working."

Fine Gael TD for Kerry North-Limerick West Jimmy Deenihan described him as a long-standing, genuine friend who will be dearly missed.

Mr Deenihan worked with Mr Healy-Rae on Kerry County Council as well as in Dail Eireann.

He said: "I got to know him very well over the years and there is no doubt that he was committed to his constituency, and committed to the people he represented."

Deputy Michael Lowry said he was a one-off.

He said: "He had an original, authentic style. He was blessed with a wonderful personality including commitment, sincerity, loyalty, shrewdness, wit and charm. His word was indeed his bond.

"His big heart was indelibly linked with Kerry. The Kerry domain and the people of Kerry were his everlasting pride and joy."

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