‘Barracks closure sealed my fate’: Kelly

Former Fianna Fail TD Peter Kelly considered stepping down from the party following the Government’s decision to close Longford’s Connolly Barracks, writes Liam Cosgrove.

Former Fianna Fail TD Peter Kelly considered stepping down from the party following the Government’s decision to close Longford’s Connolly Barracks, writes Liam Cosgrove.

In a frank and open interview with the Leader this week, the one time Longford County and Town Council representative, expressed his bewilderment at the move which he believes effectively brought a premature end to his time in politics.

Mr Kelly said he felt “badly let down” by then Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea, who he claimed went back on previous guarantees to keep the historic Defence Forces headquarters open.

“He (Mr O’Dea) had assured me it would never close,” he said.

“I had him only up here only two years ago when we visited the barracks and he told me then he wouldn’t let it go.”

Labelling the saga as one his biggest political regrets, Mr Kelly said the fallout from its closure still riles him, almost a year after his exit from the much changed 31st Dail was confirmed.

In what was undeniably one of the key talking points and most divisive issues in the lead up to last February’s general election, the ex-publican and now full time funeral director also defended his own role in the controversy.

“I was very, very disappointed that the closure of Connolly Barracks happened. That could be seen as a downfall because it wasn’t the number of people working in it, it was the message it sent out. Maybe in hindsight I could have resigned from the party but when it came to the closure I had canvassed tirelessly to keep the barracks open.”

To read this story in full, see this week’s Longford Leader.