Tuesday 16 July 2019

New mayor to 'put on the Cork jersey'

Macroom's Martin Coughlan handed the Deputy Mayor chain

The newly elected Mayor of County Cork Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) and Deputy Mayor Cllr Martin Coughlan (Ind). Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
The newly elected Mayor of County Cork Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) and Deputy Mayor Cllr Martin Coughlan (Ind). Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Bill Browne

Hopes that the Cork County Mayor's chain might be heading to North Cork this year have been dashed after a Fianna Fail councillor from Clonakilty was last Friday appointed to the office for the next 12 months.

An agreement between Fianna Fail, Independent and Labour councillors meant that Christopher O'Sullivan beat off the challenge of Fermoy's Noel McCarthy (FG) for the office by 27 votes to 21, with seven councillors abstaining from the vote. 

The pact means that the chain of office will alternate between Fianna Fail and the Independents for the five-year duration of the Council, with Mary Linehan Foley (Ind) in line to become County Mayor next time around. 

The chain of office will travel to West Cork for the following two years, with Bandon's Gillian Coughlan (FF) and Bantry's Danny Collins (Ind) taking over the reins. 

However, the chain of office will then head north, with veteran Fianna Fail councillor Frank O'Flynn from Glanworth set to wear it for the final year of the council term.

There was some good news for the mid-Cork area at County Hall last Friday, with Independent councillor Martin Coughlan from Macroom being elected Deputy Mayor, after defeating Cork East's Anthony Barry (FG) also by 21 votes to 21. 

A law graduate, 37-year-old Mayor O'Sullivan was co-opted onto Cork County Council in 2007 following the election of his father, Christy, to Dáil Eireann. 

The fourth member of his family to follow a career in politics, Cllr O'Sullivan was subsequently re-elected to the authority in 2009 and 2014. 

This year he topped the poll in the Skibbereen West Cork electoral area and was elected on the first count with more than 2,700 first preference votes.

Speaking after taking over the office, Mayor O'Sullivan, an avid bird watcher and wildlife enthusiast, said climate change and environmental issues would be very high on his agenda for the next 12 months.

"I consider this to be an opportune time to promote a number of initiatives including changes to our fleet with hybrid and electric vehicles and installing refilling stations across our county," he said. 

Mayor O'Sullivan said the significance of the role was not lost on him and pledged to market Cork, avail of new opportunities and continue the Council's proud record of supporting and engaging with communities across the county. 

"I am also conscious of delivering on a number of issues key issues such as housing and roads and will continue to advance steps already taken to date," he said. 

"I am going to put on the Cork County jersey and be a Mayor for the entire county. I am most looking forward to this position and will endeavour to serve the people of Cork with commitment and dedication," he pledged. 

Cllr Coughlan, a former Labour councillor who lost his seat on the authority in 2014 after serving for 10 years on the council, decided to run as an Independent in May's local elections. 

Cllr Coughlan, who also served for a decade on Macroom Town Council, including a stint as the Mayor Macroom, said being elected Deputy Mayor was a "fantastic honour" for him. 

"One issue that I feel particularly strongly about was the abolition of town councils and the impact this has had on the areas formerly covered by them and the rate payers there. In my role as Deputy Mayor I will be advocating for the return of town councils," he said.