THE sudden death of former Donegal County Council Chairman, Denis McGonagle, this morning has been described as a “huge shock” and loss to the people of Inishowen and the county.
Mr McGonagle (78), a father of four from Tiernaleague, Carndonagh, passed away suddenly at Letterkenny General Hospital after a very short illness. He served as a county councillor for over ten years, on two different terms, up to 2004, and had the highest honour of being elected Chairman of the council in 1995-96.
Educated at St Patrick’s Primary School, Carndonagh and St Columb’s College in Derry, he was very well-known in the Inishowen peninsula. A sales rep for many years, he also worked in the licensed trade, grocery sector and hardware business.
As a councillor, he was a major figure for Fianna Fail, notably in the Inishowen area, for many years and held many positions. Cllr McGonagle announced in 2008 that he was not seeking re-election to the council. He is survived by his wife Mary Jo, and four of a family, as well as brothers and sisters in the Inishowen area.
Mr McGonagle, lost his council seat by just 20 votes in 1999, but regained it the following election in 2004-2005, showing the huge respect he commanded in the locality.
Donegal County Council adjourned its meeting this afternoon for half an hour as a mark of respect.
Leading tributes to their former colleague, Fianna Fail party whip, Cllr Ciaran Brogan, described the late Cllr McGonagle as a “stalwart and great representative” for the people of Inishowen
Senior Fine Gael councillor Bernard McGuinness, from Culdaff, said the death of Denis McGonagle was a “sad day” for the people of Inishowen.“His death came a lot sooner than everyone had expected,” he said. I spoke to his brother, the parish priest of Culdaff, just yesterday. Nobody expected the death to be so sudden. He was a very sincere man, in his political, business and family life. He will be sadly missed.”
Labour party representative, Cllr Martin Farren, said “you wouldn’t have met a nicer gentleman.”
The current County Manager, Mr Seamus Neely, said he remembered Cllr McGonagle as a “gentleman who treated all staff, employees and management of the local authority with respect. He was a very able councillor and had a very warm, friendly manner,” he said.
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