Jackie Healy-Rae passes away

Former Kerry South Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae has died today.

Jackie Healy-Rae passes away

Former Kerry South Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae has died today.

Mr Healy-Rae was 83 and had retired from politics at the 2011 general election when his son Michael won the seat in Kerry South that he had occupied since 1997.

He had been sick for some time and died this afternoon at Kerry General Hospital.

Many tributes will be written, but this grainy video of Mr Healy Rae's general election victory speech in May 2007 in Kenmare - which attracted nearly 40,000 views on YouTube - probably best sums up the affection in which he was held by his supporters.

Jackie Healy Rae's involvement in politics dates back to the 1960's when he managed campaigns for Fianna Fáil and not just in his native South Kerry.

After being co-opted to Kerry County Council in 1973 he went on to win a seat in every election for 30 years.

In 1997 he had a row with Fianna Fáil when they would not give him a party nomination to run in the general election, so he stood as an Independent and won a seat.

He was one of four Independents needed by Fianna Fáil and the PD's to secure a Dáil majority - in return he got funding for projects in South Kerry.

Healy Rae reminded constituency and former Fianna Fáil colleague John O'Donoghue - who was appointed Justice Minister - that he was effectively "the spare wheel on his merc".

Again in 2007 when Fianna Fáil, the Greens and PD's did a coalition deal, Healy Rae and other independents were part of a back-up deal.

At the 2011 general election he stood down, but the Healy Rae dynasty continued with his son Michael elected as an Independent.

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