Tributes for Labour veteran

Former Denny councillor, John Connolly
Former Denny councillor, John Connolly

Tributes have been paid to Labour stalwart John Connolly who died last week.

The veteran councillor served Falkirk district for over four decades as a member of Denny Town Council, Central Regional Council and Falkirk Council until he retired, due to ill health, in 2003.

Connolly was a major player in local politics throughout his career.

When Central Regional Council was established in 1975, he became a key member of major committees including education, social work and finance.

In 2000 he was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to local government and when he finally stepped down, he was succeeded as leader of the Labour Group on Falkirk Council by Linda Gow.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Councillor Gow said: “I first met John in 1995 when I was elected to the new ‘shadow’ council which was to become Falkirk Council in 1996.

“As a former member of Denny Town Council and Central Regional Council he brought a wealth of experience.

“He was appointed convenor of education and I became his depute and he became my mentor. I was very fortunate to be able to work so closely and learn so much from a true gentleman and a man of great integrity.

“He was elected leader of the council within a few years because he was so well respected by his Labour colleagues. John always had the people – the ‘Citizens of Falkirk’ he called them – uppermost in his mind with every decision he took. He was a kind and caring man, with social work and education his most important issues.

“John was a loyal member of the Labour Party and we certainly appreciated his talent and the work he did.”

Falkirk Provost Pat Reid, knew Connolly when he worked as an officer of the council before himself becoming a councillor.

Provost Reid said: “There are many things you could say about John, but I think the word ‘gentleman’ sums him up.”

SNP Group leader Cecil Meiklehjohn said: “I never got to work with him, but I’m told he was a courteous individual who encouraged debate and was always approachable.”

John Connolly’s funeral service was held in St Alexander’s RC Church in Denny yesterday (Wednesday) before a burial at Hills of Dunipace Cemetery.