Joe Reilly and Gerry Adams at the Solstice concert in Joe's honour in January.

Death of Cllr Joe Reilly

Cllr Joe Reilly, who has served as a councillor in Navan and Meath for almost a quarter of a century, has died following a battle with cancer.

The Sinn Fein councillor was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in November. He was 67.

A key player in Sinn Fein and close to the party leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, he was a member of the party ard comhairle, and was deeply involved in the Peace Process.

At last December's Ard Fheis, where Gerry Adams announced his retirement as party leader, he made special mention of Cllr Reilly in his speech, and the Navan man received a standing ovation.

The Commons Road native, known to many as 'Joey', served time in prison after being caught with other IRA members with explosives in a house in Donabate in Dublin in 1975.

Sentenced to four years in Portlaoise prison, he and others managed to escape during a court appearance at Green Street Courthouse in Dublin, but were caught and he received a 10-year term.

Released in 1985, he stood as a Sinn Fein candidate in the 1987 general election and was elected a councillor in the 1994 local elections.

He topped the poll in Navan Urban Council election in 1999, and was within a whisker of a Dail seat in 2002, with over 8,000 votes.

Although responsible for bringing the Sinn Fein vote to such a high level, he was always a cross-community activist who didn't push his politics on anyone.

Son of the late Joe and Christine Reilly of the Commons Road, he was eldest of six children, and was only predeceased by his mother on St Stephen's Day two years ago. He lived in Bohermeen.

His brother-in-law, Sean Dunne, Bohermeen, husband of his sister, Marian, died in November.

A full-time political representative, Joe Reilly had earlier worked at Navan Engineering Works.

He was a board member of the Solstice Arts Centre, and at the end of January a special appreciation show in his honour was held there, entitled ' A Commons Champion'.

He also attended the launch of a new two-year creative investment programme on developing creative arts opportunities for young people, between eCOMM Merchant Solutions and Solstice Arts Centre on Tuesday, which he was pivotal in arranging between the Solstice and Noel and Valerie Moran.

On Wednesday, he was unable to attend the opening of another project he was deeply involved in, the opening of Meath Springboard premises in Navan, but was delighted to finally see the project come to fruition.