John Foley – ‘One of the Best’

The late John Foley in his toy shop where he seemed to give away to needy children as much as he ever sold!

Today I wrote to the family of John Foley on behalf of all my colleagues in Liverpool to say how saddened we are at his death. He was a man full of warmth, vitality and honour. He passionately believed in challenging the powers that be and seeking justice for those who he thought were poorly treated.

I first met him after the City Council bungled the reopening of the St John’s Market and worked with him closely when the Council, having learned nothing bungled the reopening as well!

He carefully orchestrated a campaign in the early days when the Council were trying to charge sky high rents for premises that were not fit for purpose. Interestingly he always took a back seat seeking to promote the views of others such as Colin Laphan as the public face of the Traders and Cllr Juarez and I in their support. The Mayor of Liverpool turned up and promised to do works to the Market (still not complete by the way) and not charge rent or service charge in the meantime.

Having secured the Market, he went in to his next campaign, ridding Liverpool of the Kingdom enforcement company. He was assiduous in following up and interviewing people who had been badly used by this company and I have no doubts that it is largely thanks to his efforts that The Mayor again capitulated and broke the Kingdom contract.

I didn’t agree with him on every campaign he followed. I really don’t that that 5G is as bad as he thought it was! On his behalf I challenged the scientific certainties and when I found proof that 5G is not harmful I explained that I couldn’t support him on this one. I noticed that he stopped campaigning on that issue soon after.

We came back together However, on the way that the way that the Market Traders were treated post Covid. There was no explanation of why the Market was so slow to reopen. There was no way that the traders could have afforded full rents on the stalls given the low number of people in town. Again, he organised the campaign, got the banners out and took to the air waves enlisting Cllr Kris Brown and I in to support them.

His last campaign was to save Millvana and Brushwood Homes. I am so pleased that before he died he saw that once again his work with countless others was so successful and that the homes would stay open.

If I believed in an after life I could well imagine that the first person I would meet on the other side would be John Foley with his video camera saying, “what do you think of this Councillor!”

My thoughts will be with all his family in the difficult weeks ahead. I am sure that they will be comforted by the many people who will simply tell them, as I do, that their Dad was just ‘One of The Best’.

Liverpool has lost a great son who was not afraid to talk truth to power. He was unassuming but determined. If he believed something, he fought for it. Whether you were on his side or in his targets you could not help but respect this man of honour, compassion and integrity.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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3 Responses to John Foley – ‘One of the Best’

  1. Jean Kennedy says:

    Mr kemp I am a life long friend of Johns we had stalls next to each other on the old market thats how we met at the beginning of his Ryanair campaign, everybody thought he was crazy (I knew it) but people wouldnt give him a chance and get to know the real John, me and my daughter supported him on so many of his campaigns, some we agreed with others we didn’t and we had a fight on or hands to persuade him not to do them (he was hard work) BUT oh what a man he was as you so rightly say he fought for what he believed in and trust me he got himself into some scrapes as only John could. People started to see the John which we knew and loved, John was convinced everyone hated him I wish he was here to see all these amazing people paying him such homage. John spoke highly Of you when you got on board with the reopening of the market. On behalf off his four beautiful daughters who he was and is truly proud of I thank you so much for your lovely, sincere, kind words. John would be so humbled to read this. He would be saying “it’s all waffle”. Thank you

  2. Colin Wilson says:

    Well john you always did what you set out to do.
    Knowing you all our 55yrs of life has been a pleasure/ a Privilege.
    From the beginning you always had the plan.
    The Trade fares the markets All over the country
    The 1st shop selling Gold
    I thought you was mad.
    And fitting that we both ended up at St Johns.
    Sleep Tight my Little Warrior.
    See you on the Other Side.

  3. Andrew Buckles says:

    Ive only just found out.
    Im sure i was just having a cup of tea with him on his stall in sep. He’d always buy one, never let me buy one.
    He was so so passionate. Telling me about a nursing home closure in Anfield and how he was helping the protest.
    But it wasnt always about himself, EVERY time i met john, he’d big yer up. Ask how yer doing. Give yer an idea. Tell yer to go for it.”Yer can do it lad”.
    Thanks for sharing a shop with me at our shop at Anfields Ground. Yer helped me out there when i was struggling.
    Im gonna miss popping in to see him on his stall.
    Im gonna miss that cup of tea.
    Im gonna miss him sayin ‘just give us wot yer can’ for a little toy me daughter wanted.
    He wasnt about money
    He wasnt about fame
    He was a fighter for justice
    A campaigner
    A true ‘Working Class Hero’
    A Local Legend

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