Monday 22 July 2019

Tributes to Leo Conlon

Sorcha Crowley

The July meeting of Sligo County Council was adjourned yesterday (Monday) as a mark of respect to the former Councillor Leo Conlon who passed away last month.

Newly elected Fine Gael Councillor Gerard Mullaney proposed adjourning the meeting and was seconded by Fianna Fáil Councillor Martin Baker.

As the member who served the longest with the late Geevagh native, Independent Councillor Declan Bree led the tributes to the former councillor, who was first elected to the Council for the Ballymote Electoral area in 1979 and served for 25 years until his retirement in 2004.

"Over the years I had the privilege of serving with Leo Conlon on this Council, on the County Sligo V.E.C., the Sligo Local Health Advisory Committee and numerous other statutory bodies," said Cllr Bree.

"There are two words in particular that spring to mind when I think of Leo Conlon, "decent" and "respectful",' he said.

"Leo had a deep sense of commitment to those he served in the Ballymote Electoral Area and in particular to the people of the Geevagh area who solidly supported him over the years.

"As a councillor who had the privilege of serving with Leo Conlon for 25 years, I can give testament to his integrity, his dedication and his sense of service to this Council and to the people of Sligo,' added Cllr Bree.

Cllr Mullaney described Leo Conlon as an 'outstanding public representative' who worked 'extremely hard' and was 'widely respected.'

"He had a passion and enthusiasm for his role as councillor and strongly promoted the empowerment of local representatives with a view to making them more effective,' he told the meeting, which was also attended by the late councillor's daughter-in-law Martina Conlon.

"He served as a role model to many aspiring politicians and for me he was a role model,' he said. An example of his legacy was when a landslide damaged Geevagh pitch Cllr Conlon secured funding to repair it. Cllr Mullaney said the late councillor was a regular visitor to the Showgrounds, enjoyed horse-riding and snooker but his real passion was for fishing and added that he served as a member of the North West Fisheries Board for many years.

Riverstown Councillor Martin Baker rose to say Cllr Conlon had been a 'brilliant man and politician'. "Whoever went to him with a problem had it solved whether there was a vote there or not,' he told the meeting. He said Cllr Conlon was very dedicated to sport and rarely missed a Rovers game, 'even when he wasn't fit to attend.'

"He had a word for everyone. We will miss him dearly. We were very privileged we had a man of such esteem to represent this area,' he concluded.

Fine Gael Councillor Sinead Maguire said that while she hadn't the privilege of working with him, it was clear from his funeral 'he was very dedicated with an inherent interest in people and their idiosyncrasies.'

"It was also very clear that he was a very loving father, despite a busy career in politics he also had the ability to balance family life,' she said.

Another party colleague Councillor Dara Mulvey said Cllr Conlon was a 'very friendly easy man to talk to and very helpful to anyone starting out in local politics.'

On behalf of the Sinn Féin group, Councillor Chris MacManus said he 'stood in awe' of Leo Conlon when he first met him in 1999. "He was very erudite, well-spoken and knowledgeable with an innate sense of decency and common sense. He worked passionately for all who approached him,' said Cllr MacManus.

Chief Executive of the Council Ciarán Hayes expressed sympathy to the Conlon family on behalf of the Council:

"He was certainly well regarded by the community and within these corridors,' he said.

Cathaoirleach of the Council, Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom MacSharry again paid tribute to Cllr Conlon, who served as Cathaoirleach in 1988 and 1998.

"He built up respect across the political divide and left behind a very proud body of work.

"He also served as a great role model for upcoming councillors. May he rest in peace,' he concluded. The meeting stood adjourned to next Monday, 8th of July.

Sligo Champion