The leader of Fianna Fáil was in Longford last week to honour four local party stalwarts at a special ceremony which was held in the Longford Arms Hotel. Micheal Martin, TD made presentations to former TD, Peter Kelly and former councillors Paddie Connellan and Jimmy Coyle as well as Pauline Foudy for their “outstanding contribution” to both the Fianna Fáil party and to the communities in which they lived during their 100 years of service between them.
In introducing those being honoured, Chairman, Cumann Comhairle Dáil Noel Conway said that politics and Fianna Fáil “had changed” and that the party was now endeavouring to “reignite” a flame, “a flame that means so much to so many people across the country”. “Politics is a bit like sport ,” he added. “When a team wins the county final, people want to get close to the manager, but forget about those behind the scenes and this is a night to recognise those people. Micheal Martin is concerned with the future of our party and that flame will ignite again.”
In summoning up the contribution of those being honoured, Mr Martin said that they had “personified” the very past of what the Fianna Fáil party stood for. “I have spent the last 12 months listening to people on the ground on the changes that must be made,” he said, adding that the party intended to respond to that in a “robust way, without fear or favour”. “The conduct of some of the party has, without doubt, brought the Party into disrepute and we are not about that; we are committed to Fianna Fáil and we are in politics because we want to make a contribution to the communities in which we live. That is what the four people who are being honoured here tonight have done; their contribution to Co Longford has been outstanding. Paddie Connellan has been an outstanding member of our party and was a founder member of the women’s group here in Longford and we will look to reassert and improve the profile of women in the Fianna Fáil party. Jimmy Coyle was first elected in 1974 and was chairman of the Midland Health Board for over 30 years. He was chairperson of Co Longford VEC and we thank him for his commitment and dedication to the party and to the community in which he lived.”
The Fianna Fáil Leader then went on to compliment Pauline Foudy on her contribution to the party and he said that he had never met anyone who brought “such a sense of good fun to politics” like Peter Kelly. “Peter always had a good story to tell ,” Mr Martin added. “In 1895, he was first elected to Longford County Council and was elected a TD in 2003. He fought a good fight here in Longford and the recognition for him is very well deserved. All four being honoured here tonight have given 100 years of service to the Fianna Fáil Party between them and it is people like them, that will help to bring the party into the future. We will be a progressive republican party that will be committed to bringing change to the communities in which we live. We will be a strong, vital force once again.”