THERE were no real suprises at the headquarters of Wexford County Council on Friday as members gathered to elect a new chairperson for the coming year.
There were no real suprises at the headquarters of Wexford County Council on Friday as members gathered to elect a new chairperson for the coming year.
As had been expected, veteran Labour Cllr. Ted Howlin was elected as a result of the Labour and Fine Gael pact which gave him the support of the majority of the chamber.
Outgoing chairperson Cllr. Kathleen Codd-Nolan spoke of her delight at having spent a year in the chair. 'It has been a great honour,' she said, 'despite financial challenges and the challenges that arose with the change in local government.' Cllr. Codd-Nolan spoke of some of the projects she had the pleasure of overseeing while in the chair, among them the opening of the new library and the recent JFK Homecoming Celebrations.
She thanked all the staff and members at Wexford County Council for their work, before a number of members paid tribute to her work throughout the year, among them Cllr. Padge Reck who said, 'I'd like to congratulate you on a successful year. You did say some of us tested your patience, and I was one of them, but I have to say you were always very fair and represented the council with dignity and style.'
It was then over to Cllr. George Lawlor who proposed Cllr. Howlin for the position of Chairperson. 'Cllr. Howlin comes from a family steeped in political history and tradition,' Cllr. Lawlor said. 'His father John was very active in the ITGWU and of course we all know Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.
'Ted has also been extremely active in Wexford Festival Opera and himself and his dear friend Jim Golden, who passed away recently, were the face of the box office there at one stage. As a result of his political background and all his hard work over the years, I think Cllr. Ted Howlin is the ideal candidate.'
Cllr. Lawlor's proposal was seconded by Cllr. Robbie Ireton before Cllr. Howlin was presented with the chains and elected chairperson without any opposition. 'I want to say what an honour and a privilege it is to be elected chairperson,' said Cllr. Howlin. 'As has been mentioned, it has been a considerable time since a Labour officer has held the chair. In the past it has fallen on the likes of Tommy Byrne, Mick Corish and Andy Doyle and I want to live up to their high standards.'
Cllr. Howlin outlined that throughout the year he hopes to work on a number of projects, among them ensuring Rosslare Europort fulfils its potential and developing the retail sector in Wexford.
Cllr. Howlin's election was greeted with praise all around the council chamber. However Cllr Declan MacPartlin did say, 'I was tempted to propose our longest serving member Cllr. Padge Reck for the chair; however I knew that this would cause a crisis of conscience for Cllr. George Lawlor!'
Cllr. Pat Cody was elected Vice Chairman, and again received no opposition. Cllr. Cody now holds both the chains of Chairperson of Enniscorthy Town Council and Vice Chairman of Wexford County Council, something which Cllr. Paddy Kavanagh alluded to when he joked, 'You have the two sets of chains now Pat, and I'll give you a piece of advice. At one stage I lost one of the sets of chains when I held them, but I used the other set and nobody knew the difference! A chain is a chain! I hope you get pleasure out of both sets however and I wish you a successful year.'
A number of the members also commended Cllr. Cody on the great courage he had shown in battling back from illness and yet still managing to serve the people of Wexford to the best of his ability at the same time.