One of the most iconic figures in Donegal politics, former TD and Donegal County Councillor Harry Blaney, has died.
The former Donegal North–East representative, described as “one of life’s Gentlemen” passed away at Letterkenny General Hospital this morning. He was 85.
Harry Blaney was born in 1928 into what would become of Ireland’s best known political dynasties.
His father Neal had been a commander in the IRA during the War of Independence and the Civil War and served as a TD and senator between 1927 and 1948.
Harry’s older brother Neil became the TD for Donegal North East in 1948 after their father’s death.
Neil would retain the seat until his death in 1995 following a political career that saw him split from Fianna Fáil. Harry contested the seat for Independent Fianna Fáil in the 1996 by-election but lost it to Fianna Fáil candidate Cecilia Keaveney by a narrow margin. He took a seat in the general election the following year at the expense of Fine Gael TD Paddy Harte. He pledged his support to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, a deal which began the thaw in the relations between the two Fianna Fáil’s that would eventually see reunification in 2006. The 1997 deal also secured the construction of the bridge across Mulroy Bay that was named after the former TD when it was opened in 2009.
He served just one term and announced his retirement in November 2001. His seat was taken by his son Niall in the 2002 general election in 2002.
Mayor of Letterkenny, Cllr Dessie Larkin said Mr Blaney will be remembered for his integrity and generosity.
“No one ever had a bad word to say about him. People were overwhelmed by his generosity of time, spirt and indeed generosity in other places. He was a man I have never heard an ill word spoken of,” Mayor Larkin said on local radio this morning.
Funeral arrangements for the former TD, who served as a Donegal County Councillor for 40 years, are expected to be announced later today.