Ireland pays tribute to veteran Kelly

A man who could well be Ireland’s longest-serving journalist was honoured with a presentation dinner at the Stormont Parliament building.

The venue was particularly apt as James Kelly, 92, covered the official opening of the buildings in 1932. The Irish News columnist was marking an unbroken 75 years in journalism. He joined the Irish News as a reporter in 1929, before helping Eamon De Valera to found the Irish Press . He was later northern editor of the Irish Independent for almost half a century before returning to the Irish News to write a Saturday column which remains an institution at the Belfast-based paper.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, the party’s chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness and former SDLP leader John Hume were guests at the dinner. And goodwill messages were sent from Irish president Mary McAleese, and the Taoiseach, Bertie Aherne.

Kelly dedicated the evening to “that band of brothers” who he had worked with during his career.

And he said: “Their memory is not written in stone, but in the files of their newspapers for academics to pore over in years to come – for they were writing the true history of our times.”

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