Karen Coakley elected Mayor of Skibbereen
CLLR Karen Coakley was unanimously elected as mayor of Skibbereen for the coming year at last week’s Skibbereen Town Council AGM, on the proposal of the outgoing mayor, Cllr Frank Fahy.
Cllr Fahy, in a summation of his year in office, thanked council members for their support in what was a particularly busy year in which he attended over 150 different events.
Much of his time, he said, was taken up with the West Cork SOS campaign which sought to unite the public against the proposals of the HSE’s National Ambulance Service to leave the town of Skibbereen without an ambulance for 12 hours every day. He said the original intention was to have only a response car stationed in Skibbereen and Castletownbere during the night hours but largely due to the efforts of West Cork SOS, the Castletownbere ambulance will now provide 24-hour cover in their area. The people of Skibbereen and district do not seem to be aware of the severe implications of this proposal for the people of the area generally, he said.
Council members, the town manager and town clerk praised Cllr Fahy for his work during the past year, many referring to both the ambulance campaign and his campaign to have the fibre-optic telecommunications system in the town activated.
Earlier in the evening, in his last act as mayor, Cllr Fahy signed the contract for the design of the Marsh car park, which is scheduled to be completed by August, and the construction of the car park shortly after. Cllr Fahy said he and his fellow councillors believe the car park is essential to the future development of the town.
Cllr Coakley was proposed and seconded by Cllr Fahy and Cllr Catherine O’Keeffe respectively, and went on to thank her council colleagues following her election, which she described as a ‘great distinction’.
Cllr Fahy will be a ‘hard act to follow’, she said, adding that she aspired to ‘follow in the footsteps’ of ‘all the great people’ that have served before her in the role of mayor.
‘I pledge to work hard, be honest and fair and at all times loyal to my party’, said the Fine Gael councillor. While it is a ‘very challenging time’ with ‘many obstacles’ to be faced in the year ahead, Mayor Coakley said people needed to be positive and pro-active to ‘put our town back on the map as the capital of the Carberies.’
Mayor Coakley said she was ‘tired of the negativity and uncertainty’, saying new businesses and opportunities must be fostered.
The Celtic Tiger gave young people a confidence that the previous generation didn’t have, she said, and this is ‘heartening and reassuring.’
There are many positives today, she said, pointing to the ‘fantastic’ exhibition which was recently launched at West Cork Arts Centre and that is part of Sherkin Island DIT Visual Arts Program. This was evidence of the positivity and creativity that is in abundance in West Cork, said Mayor Coakley.
She said there is ‘fantastic community spirit, sporting clubs and festivals’ in the area, while the new chamber of commerce will also help to promote the locality and get people working together.
‘We live in one of the most breathtaking parts of the country and we need to promote this and to entice visitors to come and experience our haven of peace’, said Mayor Coakley, who looked forward to seeing Skibbereen ‘bustling and positive’ in the future.
Mayor Coakley said it will be ‘an honour and a privilege to represent the people of Skibbereen’ and she would do her utmost to consolidate the trust placed in her as mayor of the town.