It is a rare occurrence in political life that candidates are acknowledged, never mind praised, by their opponents.
At the Castleisland Chamber Alliance meeting last night, Labour Party TD Arthur Spring, responding to a question on the IDA’s apparent lack of interest in Castleisland, said: “In fairness to Tom Fleming he has been banging the Castleisland drum since he was elected to the Dáil five years ago.”
There have been and will be more tributes to the Scartaglin based politician over the coming days after he announced this evening that he is to step down from the race to the 32nd Dáil.
They may have been rivals for the votes of the electorate in the heartland they jointly ‘beat’ but outgoing TDs, Tom Fleming and Michael Healy Rae also have a long and enduring friendship.
“In fairness to Tom Fleming he has been banging the Castleisland drum since he was elected to the Dáil five
years ago,” – Arthur Spring,TD.
This evening, Michael Healy Rae paid tribute to his colleague thus:
“Tom Fleming’s father, Tom and my own father served together in Kerry County Council for years. Later on ‘Young Tom’ as we still call him, and myself did the same. Tom was there since 1985 onwards and for the last five years we were in Dáil Éireann together.
“He was always courteous and sincere and we enjoy a very strong friendship. I wish him the very best in his retirement and I hope he’ll keep his hand in at some level as he has an awful lot to contribute,” said Mr. Healy Rae.
Deputy Martin Ferris has, this evening, paid tribute to Deputy Tom Fleming:
“I want to pay tribute to a gentleman of the highest order who has worked diligently and honestly, not alone for his South Kerry constituency but for the entire County of Kerry. Tom shocked many pundits when he took a seat at the last election and once again he has shocked many with this announcement.
“Tom is someone I have the highest respect for, not only in a professional capacity but in a personal one also. I had the pleasure of working with him on both Kerry County Council and in Dáil Éireann and he is a man of the highest integrity who always put his constituents first.
The measure of him was that he was respected by everyone from all sides of the house.
“He will be a huge loss to politics in the county and I would like to wish him all the best in the future in whatever he turns his hand to next,” said Deputy Ferris.