Maura Healy-Rae formally co-opted onto Kerry County Council

The eldest daughter of Danny Healy-Rae has been co-opted onto Kerry County Council in a seat vacated by her father on his election to Dáil Éireann.

“It used to be three Healy-Raes for the price of one, now it is four,” Danny told the meeting. Maura Healy-Rae, 25, a teacher of English and history at St Brogan’s in Bandon Co Cork, is the fourth of the six Healy-Rae children of Danny and his wife Eileen.

The seat in the Killarney Municipal District was occupied by Ms Healy-Rae’s late grandfather and former TD Jackie who was elected to Kerry County Council in 1973. Ms Healy-Rae was proposed by her brother Johnny who represents South and West Kerry — an area, his father pointed out, which is larger geographically than many Dáil constituencies.

She was seconded by the Tralee independent councillor Sam Locke.

Ms Healy-Rae’s co-option brings to six the number of female councillors on the 33-member council. That is the highest ever female representation on the local authority in its history in Kerry and it brings to an end a period in recent times in which there was no female councillor in Killarney.

In her maiden speech, to a chamber packed with family and friends, Ms Healy-Rae said her grandfather’s legacy was “written all over this constituency”.

Her father Danny had been “the hardest working councillor to grace the chamber” and he would be a hard act to follow, the new representative said. “I am not getting carried away by the sentimental side of it when there’s work to be done,” Ms Healy-Rae said adding that roads, health, social housing, and education would be her priorities for the next three years.

Danny Healy-Rae — an independent councillor since 2003 — was invited to speak by acting chairman Jim Finucane. He said in Dublin they were criticised for being “gombeens”. However, he said, in 10 short days the people understood how to vote, referring to his late entry as a candidate into the election and the Healy-Rae election strategy.

Also co-opted and also with full agreement was John Lucid from Ballyheigue to replace the newly elected Fianna Fáil TD John Brassil in the Listowel Municipal area. The retired accountant with the ESB, 56, is well known in hurling circles and has trained the hurling team in Ballyheigue.

Moira Murrell, CEO of the council, said it was the council was losing “two very strong members” in Mr Healy-Rae and Mr Brassil. However, she said the county and its many challenges would be very well represented in the Dáil.

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