A former Labour Party stalwart in Tipperary was honoured when Tánaiste and party leader Eamon Gilmore officially launched the new Michael Ferris Tipperary West Regional Branch in Tipperary Town.
The launch took place in the Excel and was attended by a number of local Labour representatives including Minister of State Alan Kelly, MEP Phil Prendergast and Senator Denis Landy.
The new branch has arisen as a result of the amalgamation of the Cappawhite, Tipperary Town and Cashel Labour branches.
Addressing the event, Gilmore paid tribute to the late Michael Ferris and to his family.
“I’m honoured to be asked to attend this function in Tipperary town and reorganise the party in this part of Tipperary and to rename the new regional branch after the late Michael Ferris.
“I knew Michael very well; he was a great public representative. He served the people of Tipperary very well and he did so with a great distinction. He was the kind of representative that was very much the heart and soul of the Labour party committed to the people he represented, working every day and every night and there are stories told about people calling to him on Christmas day.
“His door was always open and he was someone who made a big contribution to national policy making on behalf of the Labour party. I remember the night I heard of Michael’s passing and it was a great shock. It’s a privilege to be here to meet his family”.
A special presentation was made to Michael’s widow Ellen. Michael and Ellen married in 1981 in Cormac’s Chapel in the Rock of Cashel and have many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“My fondest memories of Michael in regards to his career was his commitment and enthusiasm and the belief that he was going to do everything possible to win,” said Ellen.
“In the 1982 election my daughter Katherine was born four days before the election was fought and Michael was in the middle of the general election and the senate election; politics was just a part of our life and without people here tonight, Seanie Lonergan, Pat Barry, Mick Byrnes, Oliver Coffey and Liam Hayes, Michael couldn’t have done it on his own, he depended on these really committed people.
“This means a lot to my family and it’s a tremendous honour that Michael is going to be remembered in this way and our family feel so privileged and so thankful.”
Tipperary is the spiritual home of the Labour Party, with its foundation in Clonmel 102 years ago this year.
MEP Phil Prendergast spoke of the time Michael Ferris secured as close as possible a 100% vote in Bansha. His warmth and way with people formed a model for the Labour party to embrace.
“His connection with local issues was also very on-the-ball. He was a good communicator and it’s one of the things that present politicians look at and wish they were more like that”, she said.