New Mayo cathaoireleach Richard Finn seals post thanks to three-vote victory

MAYO'S new first citizen has the rebuilding of the county's economy as it reopens for business as a key priority for the year ahead.

Independent Councillor Richard Finn was elected cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council at today's annual general meeting of the authority.

It is the second time the Claremorris-based member will wear the chain of office having previously served as cathaoirleach in 2017.

Councillor Richard Finn addressing the meeting following his election. Photographer: Michael Mc Laughlin

On that occasion he made history by becoming the first councillor to follow in the footsteps of his father as head of the council.

This time round the traditional handing over of the actual chain by the outgoing cathaoirleach did not take place.

Councillor Brendan Mulroy had the chain sanitised and ready to hand over, but to comply with Covid-19 advice, it was instead left in its storage pouch on the top table in St. Mary's Hall at GMIT for Councillor Finn to collect and put on himself.

There were two candidates proposed for the chairman's position – Finn, proposed by Councillor Michael Kilcoyne (Ind.) and seconded by Fianna Fáil's Councillor Damien Ryan, and Councillor John O'Hara (Fine Gael), who was proposed and seconded by his north Mayo party colleagues Councillors Jarlath Munnelly and Gerry Coyle.

Councillor John O'Hara was nominated by Fine Gael for the postition of Mayo County Council cathaoirleach. Photographer: Michael Mc Laughlin

Put to a vote, Finn won by 16-13 with the support of the FF and Independent members (there was once absentee, Councillor John O'Malley).

The position of leas-cathaoirleach is to be filled by Westport Independent member Councillor Christy Hyland.

Councillor Richard Finn pictured with his leas-cathaoirleach Christy Hyland outside Mayo GMIT following today's annual general meeting of Mayo County Council. Both are independent councillors. Photographer: Michael Mc Laughlin

In his first speech as cathaoirleach, Councillor Finn said he hoped to offer leadership on the rebuilding of the economy of Co. Mayo.

Businesses, he said, need support now more than ever.

Ireland West Airport and the Western Rail Corridor were key infrastructural items he mentioned.

And housing, too, is another priority and he wanted to see the local authority's housing programme progress, and the issue of homelessness addressed.

They needed to help people who need help, provide employment and rejuvenate the county, he said.

The meeting saw glowing tributes being paid to outgoing cathaoirleach Brendan Mulroy who experienced a somewhat different year to most chairpersons with the onset of Covid-19.

Pictured is the attendance at today's annual general meeting of Mayo County Council. Photographer: Michael Mc Laughlin

He was complimented for the manner in which he led the county during the pandemic.

Interim chief executive Peter Duggan noted how he represented the county with dignity and distinction, leading with assurance in what had been an unprecedented year.

Outgoing cathaoirleach Councillor Brendan Mulroy nominating Councillor Christy Hyland as vice-chairman. Photographer: Michael Mc Laughlin
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