A seat of the Lifford council chamber lies vacant this Monday in the first meeting of Donegal County Council since the death of Manus ‘Mandy’ Kelly.
The July sitting of the council would have been Cllr Kelly’s first meeting. However, his tragic passing in June cast a dark cloud over proceedings as tributes poured in from all parties to a former colleague.
Fianna Fail councillor Ciaran Brogan thanked Cathaoirleach Nicholas Crossan and all other parties for their support during the wake and funeral of Cllr Kelly.
“I think he would have been proud of the ways the political parties came together,” Cllr Brogan said.
Cllr Brogan commended the strength of the community of Donegal during the days after the tragedy and honoured Cllr Kelly’s positive personality.
“The one thing he would say himself is : Get on with it.”
On behalf of the Sinn Féin party, Cllr Gerry McMonagle expressed his condolences to Cllr Kelly’s wife Bernie, his children, his parents and all his family.
Cllr McMonagle said Cllr Kelly was a brilliant ambassador for Donegal.
“No doubt he would have made an excellent councillor with his outgoing and friendly manner,” Cllr McMonagle said. He added that, a month on, it is important that the council community stands by Cllr Kelly’s family.
Independent Cllr and Letterkenny-Milford Mayor John O’Donnell said: “It is with a heavy heart that we sit here talking about Manus in the past tense.”
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the time to enjoy serving with Manus in the council,” he said.
Cllr O’Donnell added that Cllr Kelly was an exceptional friend and a good community person who made his time available to anyone. He said that Cllr Kelly’s death will be a big loss to the council.
Condolences were also expressed by Fine Gael representative Martin Harley, Labour party member Martin Farren and Chief Executive Seamus Neely.
Cathaoirleach Nicholas Crossan adjourned the council meeting until 2pm. He extended his sympathies to the family of Cllr Kelly, adding: “We are going to miss him and we hope his family and friends get the strength to cope. May he Rest in Peace.”
Cllr Bernard McGuinness led an acknowledgement of the passing of former Donegal County Councillor Fred Coll in June. Condolences were expressed with the family of the late Mr Coll.