DESPITE suffering from Parkinson’s disease, former Mayor of Limerick and Fine Gael stalwart Kevin Kiely announced this week that he intends to run in the next local elections.
After graduating as a mature student from UL, the 54-year-old - who lives in Belfield Gardens, Ennis Road in the city - confirmed it was his intention to run put his name before the public once again.
“I don’t have many problems with Parkinson’s, it will probably hit me later in life,” he said.
“When I finished up on the City Council I felt that rather than walking around the roads, I would do some kind of course at UL as a mature student.
“I always wanted to go to university, after leaving school early, so with my work experience at An Post and running the bar and being Mayor of Limerick and chairing all the different committees on City Council, they took me on as a mature student, studying social sciences.”
He immersed himself in his studies for the past year and recently received an honours diploma in Drug and Alcohol Studies. He attended the university two nights a week, for four hours and then all day Saturday.
“The lecturers were absolutely fabulous at UL,” he said. “What I would say to people who are like me – people who regret the fact that they never got to go to university when they were younger – is that it is never too late to go back to education.”
The Fine Gael veteran left school at 14 to work as a telegram boy in the post office. Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2012, Kevin refused to take a defeatist attitude.
“I am not going to sit at home and let the grass grow under my feet. I feel I still have a lot to offer society and my plan at the moment is to run in the next local elections,” said Mr Kiely, who is married to Doreen. The couple have two children, Kevin (22) and Koreen (23).
“It was about three days after a trip to China with the Mayor of Limerick at the time, Jim Long, that I felt unwell. I spent nearly three months in the Regional getting tests. I was eventually diagnosed in Dublin with Parkinson’s,” he explained this week.
One of the avenues he is now exploring is to get a job counselling people with alcohol and drug problems, but is keeping he is keeping his options open. After leaving the post office Kevin bought the Treaty Bar and renamed it as Thomond Bridge Bar, which he sold some years ago. It is now a popular coffee house, Jack Mondays.
Mr Kiely was elected first to the Council back in 1985, while still in his twenties, and served to 1991. He was elected again 1998 for two terms. He was Mayor of Limerick in 2009-2010.
Although he has had his run-ins with Fine Gael – and ran for election most recently as an Independent – he said he would “probably” stand for Fine Gael next time.
“We will see,” he said.