Bonfires and well-wishers greet Finneran on homecoming

Paul Healy  For Michael Finneran, a week had indeed been a long time in politics.    The previous Thursday, he was ‘just’ a TD; then on the Tuesday morning, the call came from new Taoiseach Brian Cowen, and a Minister of State appointment was offered.    Now, last Thursday, after all the excitement and formality in Dublin, the local man, the new minister, was coming home.   First stop was McHugh’s Tavern in Dysart, where a large crowd of locals came out to greet the Finneran family.    Minister Finneran was greeted by bonfires and a lone piper. He spoke of his ‘extraordinary journey’ in that he had started out as a young Fianna Fail man in that area and subsequently climbed the political ladder.    The Feevagh, Dysart native was accompanied by his wife Betty and family members.    Mr. Seamus Kelly, local Fianna Fail activist, formally welcomed the new minister, pointing out that it was sixteen years since the county had the benefit of a similar appointment.    Minister Finneran arrived in Roscommon town at around 9.30 pm on Thursday night where 200 or so well-wishers awaited. Accepting the congratulations of friends and supporters, he joined a number of colleagues on a specially erected podium in the Square, where former Senator Brian Mullooly led an hour or so of proceedings that were a flashback to the political rallies of yesteryear. Before Mr. Mullooly took over as MC, former Cllr. Anthony Murray introduced Minister Finneran to the audience, while adding his own congratulations.    Speeches were short and full of words of congratulations. Cllr. Paddy Kilduff said that he did not have his eye on his good friend’s job while Cllr. Orla Leyden quipped that she had the minister’s phone number and was imploring him not to change it. Cllr. Martin Connaughton spoke of the new minister’s capacity to get on with people as well as his interest in sport.    During his speech Michael Finneran said that he had grown up on a sixty-acre farm in Dysart. His family did not have a lot, but they had enough. He paid tribute to the support of his family over the years and also to the Fianna Fail organisation for the support he has received.    Minister Finneran said that he wished to assure the people of the county that Roscommon Hospital was his top political priority and added that as a Minister of State he was determined not to let down the Taoiseach, the people or himself.    When the new minister had completed his speech he received further congratulations on what was certainly a milestone occasion for the Finneran family and Fianna Fail.