Tuesday 16 July 2019

Family, friends and colleagues gather for Timmy's farewell bash

Bill Browne and Sheila Fitzgerald

The former Meelin-based county councillor Timmy Collins raised a few eyebrows last October when he revealed to The Corkman that he would not be seeking re-election to the authority at May's local elections.

During his distinguished service on the authority Mr Collins earned the respect of his council colleagues and endeared himself to the voting public with his ready wit and dogged determination to, in his own words, "get things done."

Last Friday night council colleagues, friends and family gathered at the Community Hall in Meelin for Mr Collins' retirement bash and to wish him well in all his future endeavours.  

"Tonight is about trying to pay back to the people who supported me do wonderfully over the years. My own family, those who went out canvassing for me and, of course, the people who voted for me. No matter how well you run a campaign, it is no good if the people don't vote for you," he said. 

Although a relatively latecomer to the council, Cllr Collins had been an active member of the Fine Gael party since 1976 before being co-opted onto the authority's Kanturk Electoral Area in 2002 after Gerard Murphy was elected to Dáil Éireann. 

After narrowly losing his seat two years later, Cllr Collins left Fine Gael and ran as an independent in the 2009 locals, topping the Kanturk poll with 3,343 first preference votes and becoming the first independent councillor to be elected in Kanturk.

"Working with my colleagues in Cork County Council was brilliant. We were lucky as Independents that we had the balance of power, which in turn paved the way for me to become the first person from Duhallow to serve as Deputy County Mayor," said Mr Collins. 

He spoke fondly of his time on the council, even waxing lyrical about the numerous late night phone calls he often received. "I remember getting phone calls at 11pm at night. However, there's no such thing as a real emergency except for a water leak, that has to be addressed immediately. But other than that people were very good and I helped everybody as best I could," said Mr Collins. 

He said that, overall, his time on the council was a "hugely positive experience" and he was proud of his ten-years service, in particular his stint as Deputy Mayor. 

"You can't be successful at that unless you have colleagues from all sides who work with you. People might be of the opinion that we go into the chamber and start fighting - we don't. That sort of conflict no longer exists at the meetings, even though we debate issues, we all respect each other," said Mr Collins.

"I supported everybody if I thought it was a motion that was worth supporting and that would be the case with other councillors as well. God rest the late Dan Joe Fitzgerald, he helped me an awful lot when I went in first; in return, I mentored young people coming in until they found their feet," he added. 

Mr Collins said he was humbled when his colleagues held a party at Annabella House to mark his final northern division meeting. 

"I really appreciated that, it was brilliant. What they did that day was unbelievable," he said.  While Mr Collins admitted he would miss sitting on the council, the public have not quite seen the back of him yet. 

"I'm still serving on four committees at IRD Duhallow, that's for the good of the local community and I will continue to do that," he promised.