“Decent, hardworking and honest” - these were among the many words reiterated by councillors during their tribute to the late Cllr Paddy Belton (FG) whose sudden death last month brought an air of genuine sadness to the council chamber last Wednesday, where this month’s meeting was cancelled as a mark of respect to the popular and much loved local area representative in Kenagh.
“It is always an honour to sit up here as mayor of this council, but it is most difficult today as I sit and look to my right and see the empty chair,” Cllr Séan Farrell (FG) said. “There is an emptiness here today - it is a sad and somber day. Paddy Belton stood out and he will be missed by his family, friends and the Fine Gael party.”
A clearly emotional town mayor, Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG) then pointed to the caring and compassionate nature that was Paddy Belton. “Paddy Belton knew what we thought of him - he knew he was our friend, a friend to all of us and that we valued him as a person,” she added. “Paddy knew that he was always among friends in this chamber and it will not be the same without him.”
“I’m a long time in local government,” County Manager, Tim Caffrey continued. “Very often people ask you who influenced you and I have to say that, definitely Paddy Belton influenced me. He was an iconic figure and a man with a special way of getting things done. He was a great person, great councillor and a great friend.”
On the night, the tributes continued to pour in. Cllr Denis Glennon (FF) said that Cllr Belton was “a team player”, while Cllr Gerry Brady (FG) added, “Paddy was a personal friend to everyone”. Councillors Loughrey, Mulleady, Connell, Kiernan, Bannon, Kilbride, Cahill, Carrigy, Browne, Victory, Duffy, Casey and McEntire also paid tribute to the late Paddy Belton, while Cllr PJ Reilly (FF) - who served on the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster Health Forum with Cllr Belton and Cllr Gerry Brady - pointed to the late councillors “loyalty”. “Paddy was a true and loyal man,” he said. “He was always concerned about primary health care in Longford; his brother Liam was the first manager of Granard mart and the agricultural community in the area always held both Liam and Paddy in very high esteem. Paddy was a friend to everyone - may God rest his soul.”
Director of Services Jack Kilgannon then summed up the late Paddy Belton very aptly when he stated, “Paddy always wanted to do the right thing”. “He always had his finger on the pulse, and it was easy to see his point of view because of the fact that he always wanted to do the right thing.”
In conclusion, the new leader of Fine Gael. Councillors in Longford, Cllr Gerry Brady said, “Paddy worked for the people of Kenagh and he knew what was going on”. Cllr brady also said that Longford County Council owed the late Cllr Belton “a great debt”. “Paddy acted with dignity and respect and he was held in great respect,” Cllr Brady continued. “The Belton name has a strong political tradition in Co Longford and when Paddy Belton said something, there was weight to it. Paddy was a friend to all of us and it is hard to believe that he is gone. May he Rest in Peace.”