THERE were jubilant scenes in the council chambers on Monday night as Labour Councillor Paul Bell was elected the new Mayor of Drogheda.
He takes over from outgoing Mayor Kevin Callan for whom warm tributes were paid in what has been an extremely busy and positive year for the town with a number of landmark events including the RTE programme Local Heroes, hosting the national famine commemoration in Drogheda and the arrival of the first ever cruise ship to the town.
Cllr. Callan thanked his fellow councillors and all the officials from Drogheda Borough Council for their help and support over the past year before handing over the chains of office to Cllr. Bell, who is a veteran of the office having previously held the title of Mayor in 2010.
Congratulating Cllr. Callan on his successful term in office, outgoing Deputy Mayor Richie Culhane said he had elevated Drogheda on both a national and international platform.
'You dedicated your term to making Drogheda a better place for all the citizens of the town,' he said. ' You've left a tremendous legacy as mayor.'
Cllr. Imelda Munster said Cllr. Callan had been 'very inclusive' and ' community orientated' during his term in office.
County Manager Conn Murray said the office of Mayor was an 'onerous task' but added Cllr. Callan had had a very successful year and had made a strong contribution to Drogheda.
Councillor Bell was nominated by fellow Labour Councillor Linda Bell Woods with Cllr. Matthew Coogan nominated by Sinn Fein party colleague Dom Wilton, who said he wanted to show that the pact system was 'not fair or democratic'.
Abstaining from the vote, Cllr. Frank Gallagher said the word 'election' was a misnomer as the office of Mayor had been decided three years ago in a carpark following the local elections.
'It's a rigged election and I'm disappointed in that so I'm abstaining from the vote because it is a flawed system,' he said.
Commenting on his election, incoming Mayor Paul Bell said he was honoured and privileged to once again serve as the Mayor of Drogheda.
He said the key areas he would be focusing on during the year ahead was unemployment, the provision of local services, housing and amenities for the youth in town. He said he also wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the campaign to have Drogheda declared a city.
He said he would also lead a delegation to the Dáil in the coming weeks to fight against any proposals to downgrade or abolish Drogheda Borough Council.
Congratulating Mayor Bell on his appointment, County Manager Conn Murray said he had set an 'extremely ambitious agenda' for the year ahead.
Following the election, the Millmount Cannons were fired twice to signal the handover of the chains of office to the new mayor.