“People had their minds made up before I knocked on their door”

“It’s seems like a long time since Saturday,” outgoing Fianna Fáil Deputy Peter Kelly TD told the Leader on Monday.

“It’s seems like a long time since Saturday,” outgoing Fianna Fáil Deputy Peter Kelly TD told the Leader on Monday.

The veteran politician who served as a local area representative in Longford for a number of years prior to his first election to Dáil Eireann in 2002, was eliminated from the 2011 electoral race on the fifth count last Saturday after serving as a TD in the Longford/Roscommon and Longford/Westmeath constituencies for the past nine years.

Kelly also served on Longford County Council from 1985 to 2003.

His political career effectively ended on Saturday when he secured just 3,876 first preferences on Friday compared to 7,720 in 2007 and 7,199 in 2002. His fate was sealed when Mary O’Rourke’s transfers were distributed and Kelly gained just 481 votes compared to the 1130 which went to Robert Troy from Ballynacargy.

As a result, for the first time since 1927, Co Longford has no Fianna Fail TD. Depite his defeat however, Deputy Kelly remained upbeat as he announced his retirement from the political arena altogether.

And while he he has no long term retirement plans in place just yet, in the short term, he is returning to where it all began, working in the family business alongside his brother John.

“I’m going to retire from politics now and give my brother John a hand in the funeral business,” he said, adding that his 2011 political campaign had been a “hard fought one”.

“Look, things didn’t go well,” he said, adding that the people had spoken and “that was that”.

“I was successful in 2002 and in 2007 and I feel that I have served the people of Longford/Westmeath well during that time. The issues this time round were national and people said to me that they would not be voting Fianna Fáil.

“I feel that we had done the work locally and the investment can be seen all over the county and as well as that I worked to the best of my ability and all times.”

Nationally, the Fianna Fáil vote collapsed, but despite the fact that Deputy Kelly failed to retain the Fianna Fail seat in Longford, it was secured after the eighth count by Robert Troy whose first run in a general election resulted in a bucking of the party’s national trend in the Longford/Westmeath constituency.

“I would like to wish all the elected representatives in the constituency well in turning the country around,” said Deputy Kelly, adding that “in hindsight” it was clear to him that the electorate had made its decision prior to the start of his election campaign.

“I feel that I couldn’t really have done any more with regards to the campaign and in hindsight, people had their minds made up before I knocked on their door.

“People were nice and pleasant to me and many told me out straight that they would not vote for Fianna Fáil, but I have to say, despite that, I thought the percentage vote would be higher in support of me because I was a local candidate.”