NEW Mayor of Listowel Tom Barry is hoping to engage the public more more closely with the work of the town council, warning that the loss of the authority would come as a great blow to the town.
Sinn Féin town councillor Tom Barry, a native of the Dirrha Cottages on the outskirts of the town, was elected Mayor on Monday night. It is the second time that a member of his party has held the position.
"One of the first things I would love to do would be to take the council meetings out of the chamber for the first time ever and bring it to another venue where the public could engage with it in larger numbers," he said. "I know the Listowel Family Resource Centre are very keen to host a meeting and I think it would be a great idea to hook up with transition years in Listowel schools and bring them in too to give them an idea of how it all works, as well as the wider public as well."
He said he is firmly of the view that the town council is there to support businesses in these difficult times and said he would work closely with ratepayers for the improvement of Listowel.
Mayor Barry warned, however, that the loss of the town council - as is widely rumoured under government plans - would be disastrous for Listowel. "I think people will really miss it, especially those who are on the breadline and who come to myself and my party colleague Anthony Curtin regularly for information and help. They will be at a serious loss as they will find it much harder to connect with Kerry County Council."
Cllr Barry's election as mayor by a majority of his colleagues on the chamber was, however, described as 'unprincipled scheming' by one Fine Gael member.
Fine Gael's Tim O'Leary - who wished Mayor Barry the best - said it was 'absurd that Fine Gael, the largest party in the council continues to be pushed out by an alliance of the minor parties Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.'
There are four Fine Gael councillors, three Fianna Fáil and two Sinn Féin councillors on the authority at present.