WEST Cork has two new faces in the County Council chamber as FF’s Deirdre Kelly and SD’s Ross O’Connell took their seats this week.
And with a new county mayor, too, there was a feeling of change in the air at Monday’s meeting.
Election successes for both Christopher O’Sullivan and Holly Cairns in Cork South West meant that their two seats had to be co-opted.
Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) kicked off what was a very busy morning of nominations by proposing Deirdre Kelly to take Deputy O’Sullivan’s seat.
His colleague, Cllr Joe Carroll, seconded the proposal and said it was a privilege to nominate her. Cllr Kelly, from Dunmanway, thanked the members for welcoming her and also acknowledged Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, her former employer.
‘She took a chance on me four years ago as her parliamentary assistant and I have learned a lot since. I wish her all the best in seeking a seat in the Seanad,’ said Cllr Kelly.
Speaking to The Southern Star afterwards, Cllr Kelly – who was only confirmed as the party nomination the previous night – said she was still taking in the news.
‘It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind to be honest as the news only came through on Sunday night that I was going forward. It was important to me that I filled this place and that I was co-opted by members of my party in my own constituency,’ said Cllr Kelly.
Meanwhile, across the chamber, Cllr Liam Quaide (GP) proposed 29-year-old Goleen-native Ross O’Connell to take the sole Social Democrat seat in the chamber which was vacated by newly-elected Deputy Holly Cairns. His colleague Cllr Alan O’Connor seconded the proposal.
Cllr O’Connell. an environmentalist and PhD researcher, thanked Deputy Cairns for selecting him as her replacement and said he was looking forward to the role.
‘I am honoured to be co-opted onto Cork County Council to represent the people of Bantry and I’m committed to continuing Deputy Holly Cairns’ work on increasing transparency and accountability in local government,’ said Cllr O’Connell.
‘I am passionate about making West Cork a place for people to stay and live through the development of sustainable communities.’
Deputy Cairns said she loved her time on Cork County Council and was ‘chuffed’ that Ross has been co-opted into her seat. ‘I’m really excited to work with Cllr O’Connell and I think we will make a great team for West Cork,’ said Deputy Cairns.
Meanwhile, Charleville-based councillor Ian Doyle (FF) a well-known community activist and life-long member of St Vincent de Paul – was elected unopposed as county mayor for the remainder of this term after being nominated by party leader Cllr Seamus McGrath. The newly elected county mayor said he couldn’t describe the ‘tremendous’ honour of being elected to the role.
Two other new Fianna Fáil faces joining the Council were Suzanne O’Callaghan – sister of MEP Billy Kelleher – who took the seat vacated by Deputy Padraig O’Sullivan; while Ann Marie Ahern took the seat vacated by Deputy James O’Connor, the youngest TD in the 33rd Dáil.