WEST Cork needs a mayor, not a chair, said Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan, the outgoing chairman of the Municipal District of West Cork.
Before stepping down after a busy year, during which he attended more than 150 events, Cllr O’Sullivan (FF) took the time at the West Cork district meeting on Bere Island on Monday to argue for a change to the job description.
Cllr O’Sullivan said Clonakilty’s ceremonial mayor, Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin, was officially invited to more than 170 events from June 2015 to June 2016, and that he was often invited to the same events, but that was mostly in his capacity as a member of the Council, not as chairperson.
In his last act as chairperson of the West Cork Municipal District, Cllr O’Sullivan pleaded to have the West Cork title changed to ‘Mayor of West Cork’, with the municipal districts in South Cork and North Cork adopting the same name change.
‘While the position of chairperson of the municipal district is slowly gaining in status, it will never have the same significance with the public as the title of mayor,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
The Fianna Fáil councillor said he had worked hard to increase the profile of chairperson and felt he had succeeded in his efforts, particularly in the second half of his term, but there was ‘no escaping the fact that the title of chairman doesn’t carry the same weight’.
He said the highlights of his year included being invited to attend and speak at many of the 1916 commemoration events, the opening of Michael Collins House, the unveiling of a memorial to the signatories of the Proclamation of Independence, and the fantastic Street Carnival in Clonakilty a couple of weeks ago.
‘But the fact remains that members of the public are confused over the different titles – chairperson of the municipal district and chairperson of the western committee – it would avoid so much confusion if ‘chair’ was changed to ‘mayor’.
‘It would also raise the profile of the work of the municipal district, add dignity to ceremonial events, and it would mean that towns like Skibbereen and Bantry and Dunmanway would have a figurehead when visitors are here and for launching events.’
The newly-elected chairperson of the municipal district is Declan Hurley (Ind), who is currently the chairman of the western committee of Cork County Council. He said he, too, would be in favour of changing the job description.