FINE GAEL’S, Cllr. John Hegarty has been elected as the new Chairperson of Wexford County Council with Fianna Fail’s, Cllr. Barbara Anne-Murphy, getting the Vice-Chairperson’s role.
Their election to the positions took place at the local authority’s Annual General Meeting in County Hall yesterday afternoon.
Cllr. Hegarty, who was proposed by Cllr. Anthony Donohoe, said his key priorities for the coming year will include working at creating jobs within the county so that young people will not have to travel to Dublin or abroad to secure employment.
He also said that he would like to see Wexford becoming a ‘healthy county’ and highlighted the fact that mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand.
Cllr. Hegarty also said that communication will be a key priority for him over the coming months and that more needs to be done in that area to help the local authority provide the best support possible to the people of the county.
Cllr. Malcolm Byrne seconded Cllr. Hegarty’s nomination and in doing so described his Gorey Municipal District Council colleague as being a person who “looks for solutions” and tries to be as fair as possible.
Cllr. Anthony Kelly proposed Cllr. Johnny Mythen for the position of Cathaoirleach and he was seconded by Cllr. Deirdre Wadding.
Both of them said the Sinn Fein councillor would be ideal for the job, however, when the nominations were put to a vote Cllr. Hegarty emerged victorious with 25 councillors voting in favour of him and eight voting for Cllr. Mythen.
Cllr. Willie Fitzharris was absent from the meeting.
Upon his election tributes and congratulations were paid to Cllr. Hegarty with many councillors referring back to his exploits in the purple and gold jersey during his time with the Wexford senior footballers.
He himself said that when the idea of first getting into politics was put to him his answer couldn’t be repeated in the Chamber.
“All I’ll say is the second word was ‘off’,” he said with regard to his initial response.
However, a lack of young people and the fact he didn’t want to arrive at 80 years of age and regret not having opted to try and make a difference in people’s lives were two things that ultimately encouraged him to run for election.
He said the fact that he was now sitting at the head of the Council table was both and honour and privilege for him.
“We don’t know how many of us will be back here in two years time so we need to do everything in our power to ensure that we improve the situation for the people of Wexford,” he said.
Cllr. Willie Kavanagh proposed Cllr. Barbara Anne-Murphy for the position of Vice-Chairperson and that nomination was seconded by Cllr. Kathleen Codd-Nolan.
Cllr. Deirdre Wadding proposed Cllr. David Hynes for the position, seconded by Cllr. Johnny Mythen, but when it was put to a vote the members voted 24-9 in favour of Cllr. Murphy.
Chief Executive Officer, Tom Enright, paid tribute to the outgoing Chairperson, Cllr. Paddy Kavanagh, and also to Cllrs. Hegarty and Murphy as they prepare to take up the reins.
In his address to the members, Cllr. Kavanagh thanked everyone for the courtesy and co-operation he received from all of the members, officials and staff during his time as Cathaoirleach.
He said there were a number of highlights during the year and he wanted to reassure the people of Templeshannon, in Enniscorthy, that issues relating to there are “in hand” but are reliant on a traffic management plan as part of the flood defence scheme in the town.
He spoke of the three trips he went on while in the chair, to London, Savannah and Belgium and said they were all beneficial with the Belgium trip being especially poignant as it was to commemorations of those who died in World War I.
“It was to commemorate Willie Redmond who died on July 7, 1917, and we were there 100 years later,” he said.
“It was very moving and it’s hard to grasp the enormity of what happened and the fact that 800 people from here lost their lives in a war that was ultimately senseless.”
In their tributes to Cllr. Kavanagh for his time in the Chair the other members spoke of his frankness and openness and how he was fair to all members during discussions.
Cllr. Kavanagh’s inherent wit was also something the members said made him stand out with Cllr. Mary Farrell commenting that with him in the chair local authority meetings had many humourous moments and were never boring.
The outgoing Vice-Chairperson, Cllr. Michael Whelan, who was also congratulated for his work over the last year, said it was a pleasure to work with Cllr. Kavanagh and he wished the incoming Cathaoirleach and Vice-Chairperson the best of luck in their respective roles over the coming year.