Tuesday 23 July 2019

Forthill's 'Gentle Giant' is new Mayor

Sorcha Crowley

The "gentle giant" of Forthill, People Before Profit Councillor Gino O'Boyle has been elected as new Mayor of the Borough District of Sligo.

Cllr Declan Bree proposed Cllr O'Boyle for the position at the first meeting of the newly named Borough District of Sligo at Council headquarters at Riverside yesterday. He was seconded by Cllr Chris MacManus.

"I'm over the moon. Never in my wildest dreams did I think starting off three and a half years ago that I'd be Mayor," he told The Sligo Champion afterwards. "It's an honour for me as a person but also for my family, I'm delighted."

In his acceptance speech, the first people Mayor O'Boyle paid tribute to were his late father, former Councillor Seamie O'Boyle, whose seat he assumed on his sudden death in August 2015, and the late Councillor Margaret Gormley.

Issues he intends prioritising during his Mayorship include housing, mental health, animal welfare and the provision of more recreational facilities for the young.

"I'm going to lobby as much as I can," he replied when asked how he was going to use his position to advance these issues.

Mayor O'Boyle said housing was "probably the most urgent issue facing this Council". "We are overwhelmed by the number of people seeking our assistance and I hope that there can be a greater effort at national level to see local Authorities provided with the proper resources to deliver decent housing supports," he told the chamber.

"One of the things I deal with daily is people looking for houses.

"We know there's not enough houses being built. The rent caps are another big thing because nobody can afford to get a house now. The HAP (Housing Assistance Programme) doesn't cover it, landlords are getting greedy, they won't accept HAP," he told this newspaper.

He also called for greater resources and education around the area of mental health, which he said was an issue which has impacted very severely on many families around Sligo.

He said the consequences of not enough funding could be "seen on any day in our local hospital."

"It's an area that's always forgotten. Countless friends that I have suffer from mental health issues and the problem there as well that people don't see is that family members aren't able to deal with it. They don't see the signs. We need services for family members as well to be able to spot when someone is feeling depressed," he said.

The local community of Forthill has galvanised behind their man in the Council and several supporters accompanied Mayor O'Boyle's mother Mairead, sisters, aunt and niece into the public gallery of the Council chamber to witness his elevation as Mayor.

"The response has been unbelievable. I'm getting messages already and it's only 10.30am," he told this newspaper. It's brilliant but also brilliant for the area as well. Veronica Cawley was the last Mayor from the Forthill area," he added.

Mayor O'Boyle also intends tackling animal welfare - he has previously tabled motions calling for the banning of fur farms in Ireland - and the young.

"I have always believed that we have a positive energetic young generations in Sligo but they need support, encouragement and opportunity," he told the chamber.

"We have seen excellent work in recent years in providing pitches, walkways and other recreational amenities and this work should be progressed to ensure the youth of Sligo have proper facilities," he said. He also signalled his intention to put the restoration of the former Sligo Borough Council on his agenda in the year ahead, something he claimed was the "will of our community" to have restored.

"I see the role of the public representative to help the less fortunate in our community, to provide supports to people and families in most need, and to apply our scares resources to areas where they can have the greatest effect.

"In this way we will work towards a fair society, everyone has equal rights and equal opportunities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to deliver on this ambition," he concluded.

Councillor Declan Bree led the tributes to newly elected Mayor of the Borough District of Sligo Gino O'Boyle, having first proposed him for the position which was seconded by Cllr Chris MacManus.

Cllr Bree said that in the period since he took over his late father Seamie O'Boyle's seat in August 2015, he had proven himself a "worthy successor, hardworking, dedicated, with a deep sense of commitment to the people of this community." "Those of us who work with him respect him as a colleague who is grounded, generous, humble, honest, who seeks a society of fairness, equality and social justice and who is always guided by a desire to protect the interests of working people, of the disadvantaged and the less well off," said Cllr Bree.

"Today is a significant day for Councillor O'Boyle and it is a wonderful occasion for his mother Mairead, his wife Donna, his sisters Katie and Jane, his brother Seamus and his extended family, who have given him so much love and support over the years - and I have no doubt but that a very special person who has been missing from their lives since the 11th of August 2015 would be so proud for all of them today," he said.

Sligo Champion