Tom McEllistrim (1926–2000)
Born in Boherbee, County Kerry in 1926, McEllistrim was the son of the Fianna Fáil politician and War of Independence veteran, Tom McEllistrim. McEllistrim the younger succeeded his father when he was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry North constituency at the 1969 general election. At the 1977 general election McEllistrim was elected along with his running mate Kit Ahern. This was the first time that Fianna Fáil had won two seats in the three seat Kerry North constituency. McEllistrim, who was given much credit for this feat, was disappointed not to receive a promotion to a Minister of State.
McEllistrim became disillusioned with the Taoiseach and party leader Jack Lynch from then and began to believe that Charles Haughey was the right candidate for the party leadership. McEllistrim believed that Lynch was about to retire and was particularly uncomfortable at the thought of George Colley succeeding Lynch. Like his father before him he believed Colley was not right for the role of leader of the party. McEllistrim was particularly vocal with regard to party policy towards Northern Ireland and, as he saw it, Lynch's apparent lack of sympathy towards the northern nationalist community.
McEllistrim was a member of the so-called "gang of five" along with Seán Doherty, Mark Killilea, Jnr, Jackie Fahey and Albert Reynolds who started a lobbying campaign in favour of Haughey on the backbenches of the party. After Lynch lost two by-elections in his native Cork he resigned as party leader in December 1979. The leadership contest was called two days later and was a two-way race between Haughey and Colley. Haughey won the leadership contest by a decisive margin and McEllistrim was rewarded by being appointed Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works. He served as a Minister of State again in 1982, this time at the Department of Fisheries and Forestry.
McEllistrim lost his seat at the 1987 general election by four votes to Dick Spring. After being nominated to Seanad Éireann he regained his seat at the 1989 general election but did not retain it at the 1992 general election when he lost to constituency colleague Denis Foley.
McEllistrim died aged 74 on 25 February 2000. His son, Tom McEllistrim was a TD for Kerry North from 2002 to 2011.
|Minister of State at the Department of Finance