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‘He is on my shoulder now as he was every day of this campaign’

Side by side: Denis and Norma Foley, who worked closely together, pictured at a Kerry County Council meeting in 2004

NEWLY elected first-time Kerry TD Norma Foley paid an emotional tribute to her late father, Denis, as she addressed the gathering at the count centre in Killarney immediately after her general election victory.

She won the fifth and final seat and, although she didn’t reach the required quota, she was sufficiently ahead of her Fianna Fail party colleague, John Brassil, in the final count and he lost his seat.

Deputy Foley said she remembers her father with huge affection and gratitude.

“He would be a very proud man here this evening. He was a representative for a long number of years for this constituency,” she said.

“I travelled everywhere with him; to party meetings, to committee meetings, to constituency meetings and it was from working with him that I got a great love for and a great appreciation of what it is to be a public representative”.

She added: “I remember him with pride and with affection. He was mentioned frequently throughout this campaign to me. People mentioned him on the doorsteps and personal friends of his came and canvassed with me. He was central to it all”.

Deputy Foley remarked: “He is on my shoulder now as he was every day of this campaign and I express absolute gratitude to him”.

Newly elected Kerry Fianna Fail TD Norma Foley celebrates at the count centre in Killarney.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

Denis Foley, who died in 2013, was a TD for the former North Kerry constituency for 15 years and also served as a senator and, throughout his career, there was a fierce rivalry with the McEllistrim FF dynasty.

He was first elected to the Dáil in 1981 and retained his seat in three subsequent elections, losing to McEllistrim in 1989 but returning in 1992.

Norma, a secondary school teacher in Tralee, unsuccessfully contested the general election in 2007 but she has since enjoyed a high profile in local politics, serving as Mayor of Tralee on a number of occasions before a very successful and impressive 12-year term as Mayor of Kerry in 2017/18.

She said she was “humbled and grateful” for the honour of being selected to represent Kerry in the Dáil and she will do her best to ensure the people of the county are delivered a service they deserve.

“I will give it my all. I will give it my best, my almighty best,” she pledged.

Deputy Foley, who was added to the ticket by FF headquarters in December, to join John Brassil and Cllr Norma Moriarty, said the three-candidate strategy was “very formidable” and it was always the objective to win two seats but it wasn’t to be.

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