Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has expressed his sadness at the passing of former TD for Kerry South and Minister of State John O’Leary today. “I last met John in June when he launched his memoirs ‘On the Doorsteps’ in Leinster House. He was a man I had the great privilege of knowing personally, having worked alongside him as a young TD. A proud Kerry man and ardent Fianna Fáil activist throughout his life he was still full of energy and excitement about politics and the party. His passing brings to an end a remarkable career defined by his love of his home county of Kerry and his commitment to public service as the means to make his county and country a better place.”
Deputy Martin stated that “Over three decades of representation at local government and Dáil level marked him out as a committed public servant – a commitment recognised by his appointment as Minister of State at the Department of the Environment. He had previously worked for Kerry County Council and was eager to take his commitment to working for the people to another level. John was a veteran of the rough and tumble of Irish politics. He didn’t always see eye to eye with the then Taoiseach Charlie Haughey and fiercely fought his corner in the constituency but always remained fully committed to politics as a means to better the lot of ordinary working people in Ireland. He was a firm believer in empowering the ordinary grass roots of the party who had their ear to the ground and ensuring that government did its bit to give people a fair crack of the whip.
“John’s remarkable electoral success, topping the poll in eight of the ten elections he contested is a testament to his hard work and to the respect he was held in by the people of Kerry. He was the longest ever serving TD for Kerry South and served under four different party leaders – Jack Lynch, Charlie Haughey, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern – from 1966 to 1997 often during turbulent and troubled times. His earnest dedication to the public good and pride in where he came from represents some of the best traditions of our party. He will be missed by all his former colleagues who I know, like me, valued his wisdom and advice. I want to express my sincere condolences to his seven sons and ten grandchildren. I hope he finds his rest now with his beloved wife Judy who passed in 1989.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”