No bounds to the loyalty of Peter Kelly, Longford

Joe Flaherty

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Joe Flaherty

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No bounds to the loyalty of Peter Kelly, Longford

The late Peter Kelly, Joe Flaherty and Tom Donlon. Photo: Michelle Ghee

It was testimony to his integrity, that Peter Kelly fought the 2011 general election against the advice of many of his loyalist supporters, who felt he done enough for Longford. The irony is that his vote in 2011 could have elected him in the 2016 election but such are the vagaries of politics.

Icount myself very lucky to have spent large parts of the last twenty years in the company of Peter Kelly or we simply knew him, PK. And if there was one virtue or quality that defined the man, then it was loyalty.

There were no bounds to his loyalty and I was incredibly lucky to have had him as a mentor but more importantly as a friend.
His other stand out quality was his commitment and love for the people of Longford.

Over the years I've ran the Longford Auld Fellahs Facebook page and almost every post was based on some story or insight I gleaned from PK. He had an incredible and infinite knowledge of the town, county and its people.

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PK was custom built for politics.

He always told me it’s not rocket science and that you have to do the best that you can for people.

He delighted in helping people and I know its an aspect of his life often referenced over the past few days.

He was famed for his handwritten or scrawled notes and faxes. Yes, faxes, because long after email, PK remained devoted to the fax and at one point he was the only TD still using the fax to make representations.

But there was a method to his luddite tendency because every ministerial office always remembered that lone representation that came in via fax.

In latter years, his devoted Maura, looked after the emails and kept him abreast of social media.

I think he finally knew the writing was on the wall for the fax around 2016.

A friend had an issue with the HSE and called in Peter. He asked if he could fax the detail through but the HSE representative said they didn't have fax there. Peter couldn't believe it and wanted to know where she was that they didn't have a fax?

She retorted: “Well I don't know where you are, but I'm in 2016.”

To his eternal credit Peter loved to tell this story at his own expense.

It was testimony to the man and his integrity, that he fought the 2011 election against the advice of many of his loyalist supporters, who felt he done enough for Longford.

The army barracks had closed and again the loyalist of supporters advised him to resign the party whip in protest but privately he told me that Brian Lenihan, who was very ill, pleaded with him not to resign.

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True to his word, true to the man, Peter didn't resign but sacrificed his seat.

2011 was a hard, lonely campaign for a man who loved the election trail. But he never regretted it and said he understood the anger of the people, and he owed it to them to allow them to have their say at the ballot box.

The irony is that his vote in 2011 could have elected him in the 2016 election but such are the vagaries of politics.

Politicians are obsessed with the acceptance speeches of vanquished candidates because inevitably that will be our fate some day. All sporting and political careers pepper out in defeat.

I'll always remember Peter's vanquished address in Kenagh because there was no acrimony, no hard feelings, only love and a huge sense of pride for the delight and honour that he felt in having being able to serve the people of God's county for so long.

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