These are my notes from the above meeting. Although they reflect the content of the meeting to the best of my ability, they are subject to whatever inaccuracies may be due to my typing, hearing and interpretation …
Permission is given for television cameras to be present in the Chamber.
Sean O’Callaghan calls out the names of those elected to the Council Chamber.
The outgoing Mayor, Noel O’Connor, welcomes all to the inaugural meeting of the new County Council. He thanks management and staff of CCC who assisted him during the year with his work. He spoke about some of the projects undertaken by the County Council during the year. He identified the development of Spike Island as being one of the biggest of these. He attended community festivals throughout the county and The Gathering festival in Cork run as part of Rebel Week. This saw nine battleships sailing up Cork Harbour. The Gathering festival highlighted what can be done when councils, councillors and agencies work together.
The outgoing Mayor spoke of the relationship Cork County continues with Cook County and its largest city, Chicago. He look forward to our county’s reaping the benefits of nurturing this relationship. The county has also worked on development of closer links with China.
Last year was the year during which World War 1 was commemorated. He represented Cork County on a visit to Flanders to remember the War and those who were lost.
Promotion of economic development is now a prime function of the County Council. The Council has purchased Mallow Castle and grounds, continues to work on the development of Fort Camden, Mizen Head, Spike Island and the new Cork Science Park. The Economic Development Fund has been very effective in enabling jobs and promotion of enterprise. It has funded the Ignite and Beacon initiatives and given direct support to small food businesses.
He wishes the incoming mayor every success.
Cllr Alan Coleman (FF) pays tribute to Noel O’Connor for the work he has done and for his representation of his people. He has been an excellent ambassador for County Cork. The work he had outlined was merely a snapshot of what he was involved in over the year. He carried the chain with great dignity. He is sorry the election did not go his way but he has served everyone very well as mayor.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) congratulated Noel O’Connor. He says he served his time as mayor with great distinction and dignity. He has been a friend to everyone and an excellent ambassador. He has promoted Cork as a super-county. He thanks him also for his service in representing his people and is sorry he wasn’t re-elected. He wishes him good luck.
Des O’Grady (SF) wishes Noel O’Connor all the best.
Noel McCarthy (Lab) compliments Noel O’Connor on his year as mayor. He says he was inclusive of everyone and was very kind. His people in Mallow were very proud of him.
John Paul O’Shea (Ind) thanks Noel O’Connor also. He says he has enjoyed working with him and wishes him well.
Tim Lucey (Chief Executive CCC) thanks Noel O’Connor for his kind comments.
1. Local Government Act, 2001
(a) Election of Mayor
Cllr Seamus McGrath nominates Alan Coleman on behalf of Fianna Fail. Cllr Coleman was first elected to Cork County Council in 1991. He has served many positions and a long apprenticeship. He has an ability to work across the political spectrum. He is a reasoned and determined representative. Cllr Coleman’s nomination was seconded by Cllr Frank O’Flynn.
Cllr Kevin Murphy nominates Deirdre Forde on behalf of Fine Gael. Cllr Forde has been a member of Cork County Council since 1999. She has served with dignity and honour. She is a friend to all and always smiling. Cllr Forde’s nomination was seconded by Cllr Michael Hegarty.
Cllr Des O’Grady nominates Cllr Rachel McCarthy on behalf of Sinn Fein. She had a great election, topping the poll in the Bandon-Kinsale constituency. The people spoke. Cllr McCarthy’s nomination was seconded by Cllr Michael Murphy.
A vote is taken.
Rachel McCarthy has the fewest votes so is eliminated (10 votes).
A vote is taken again. The results are:
Alan Coleman 26
Deirdre Forde 17
Cllr Alan Coleman is elected as County Mayor.
He takes the chain from Noel O’Connor and speaks to the Chamber. This is a great honour for the people of his area. He thanks proposers and those who supported him and those who didn’t oppose him. He accepts the good wishes of those who didn’t support him. He commiserates with Cllr McCarthy but knows she’ll have a long and successful career. It is ironic that the election of Mayor was played out between himself and Cllr Forde. Both of them used to sit side by side on the FF side of the house. He knows they are still friends. Cllr Forde has a fine political career.
It is unprecedented that the Chamber has 55 members and so many new candidates. This presents challenges and refreshes the Chamber. The challenge as a new Chamber is to ensure that the staff of the CCC organisation will deliver the best service possible to the public. This is a different type of Chamber from that which we had before. Debates over the last few days between the parties has reflected that. This change was by public demand. Each of the 55 members in the Chamber is part of the political establishment of Ireland. After election, FF members spoke to every representative in the Chamber – FG, SF, Ind and Lab. The fact that FF spoke to FG means that old civil war politics are gone and we are dealing with the issues of today, not the past. The days of not talking to SF are over. The public has dictated that they are here. The 10 elected Independents form a substantial block within the Chamber. The days of considering Independents as a political backwater sitting on the sideline are over. FF spoke to them in detail. Now the distribution of committees, etc. will be given a fresh approach.
FF intends remaining a political force relevant to what people want. The challenge is in delivering what people want. Discussions held over the last few days were very important. They reflected people being responsible and mature. It is sad to see them caricatured in the media.
The top table of management has changed too. There is a new County Manager and a new County Engineer. He hopes to bring a freshness to how the County Council organisation is managed. County Cork has become very high rate-paying county – one of the highest in the country. FF has a concern about that. Small and medium sized businesses have been suffering. He hopes the lift in economy will help but he wishes the Chamber to address this anyway. He does not want people of Cork to be paying high level of LPT relative to other areas. He doesn’t want to see LPT reflect rates in the county, i.e. one of the highest countrywide.
Some core services are not being delivered at the level desired. In particular, county roads are of concern. There is no national focus on county roads and the level of spend on county roads dropped again this year. This is a huge challenge and one that cannot be tackled alone. Resources need to be got from government.
The Council has become very involved in tourism and economic development. This is very good for the county. He wants to ensure tourism permeates down through the communities we represent. The Cork Harbour projects are very exciting. The West Cork coastline has also huge potential. The focus on tourism will continue and should bring huge gain to communities.
Council housing stock is also discussed. The blight of boarded up houses is a major concern. It improved somewhat last year but he will be ensuring management continues to focus on this issue.
National legislation is changing with regard to alignment. This is a huge issue on the doorsteps. He speaks specifically of LEADER. He personally doesn’t support alignment. County Cork communities like the way things have been done, with the mentoring and help. The benefits are visible on the ground. The bottom up approach has worked well. If the Department of the Environment continues with its current policy, CCC management has a huge job to get the confidence of those using and handling LEADER funding. Those working in the communities feel confident with the current situation and don’t want to deal with County Council beauracracy.
He hopes the chamber will be even-handed during his time as Mayor.
Cllr Deirdre Forde speaks to welcome Cllr Coleman to the Mayoral chair and congratulates Cllr McCarthy on her nomination. She wishes all elected councillors well in their work. She thanks her own FG colleagues and hopes all the Members will work together for the greater good of the county and region.
Cllr McCarthy wishes Cllr Coleman well. She thanks her own party for her nomination and notes that she is delighted with SF’s increased representation.
Cllr Murphy wishes Cllr Coleman good luck. He notes that Cllr Coleman has had long gestation period! The budget and County Development Plan are huge tasks ahead of him. He congratulates all members on their election and commiserates with those who were not. Those who stood for election have courage. There is no shame in not being elected. To those Independents who supported FF today, he wishes to let the people of Cork decide how independent they really are.
Tim Lucey (Chief Executive CCC) congratulates the new Mayor. He looks forward to working with him. The Mayor will get the full support of management and staff of CCC. He personally wants stability within Chamber for the next five years. He recognises that this is a very different Council here now but that it is healthy and democratic and he is ready to work with all councillors. All will have to achieve a meeting of minds to ensure that the county can maximise its contribution to the lives of the people in this county. All need to provide the right conditions for economic growth of the county. It is also a challenge that the County Council has lost 27% of its staff and €54m of revenue. He sees CCC as a very agile unit of local government, not a burocracy. The County Council has huge accountability to the public. That is the strength of local government. He wants local government to be continued to be seen as the leader of everything in this county. This presents a challenge for community groups and other organisations. The County Council doesn’t always sing its own praises and earn itself the positive publicity it deserves.
(b) Election of Deputy Mayor
John Paul proposes Timmy Collins as deputy mayor. Joined CCC in 2003. Re-elected 2009 and again 2014. Declan Hurley seconds.
Kevin Murphy proposes Susan McCarthy. Michael Hegarty seconds.
Des O’Grady proposes Ger Keohane. Won’t be leaving politics outside the door. People voted against austerity. Seconded.
Collins has majority so elected.
Timmy Collins thanked all of those who supported him during the election. Thanked his family who have supported him throughout. Proud to go back to his village in North Cork as deputy mayor. Also welcomes independent leader in the chamber, John Paul O’Shea. Looks forward to working with him and with Alan Coleman.
Susan McCarthy thanks her party for putting her forward. Looking forward to contributing in proactive and meaningful way.
Keohane congratulates. Very proud day for himself. Thanks to Sinn Fein.
B. Appointment of Representatives to Joint Bodies
2. Appointment of 5 Members to the Regional Assembly
Kevin O’Keeffe (FF)
Gerard Murphy (FG)
Frank O’Flynn (FF)
Kevin Conway (Ind)
Joe Carroll (FF)
Appointment of 8 Members to Cork County Education and Training Board
Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF)
Gerard O’Sullivan (FF)
Mary Hegarty (FG)
Michael Hegarty (FG)
Des O’Grady (SF)
Claire Cullinane (Ind)
Padraig O’Sullivan (FF)
Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (FF)
(Think list incomplete – to be confirmed)
Appointment of 9 Members to the Regional Health Forum
Mary Rose Desmond
(Think list incomplete – to be confirmed)
Apppointment of 1 Member to LAMA
C. Appointment of Committees of the Council
Northern, Southern and Western Committees –
Ballincollig-Carrigaline is the only ward in the Southern Committee.
D. Appointment of Strategic Policy Committee Chairs
Under the Group system, the following are Chairs of SPCs and will take part in Corporate Policy Group meetings.
John Paul O’Shea
(1 more required – to be confirmed)
First Municipal District Committee meetings
The first Municipal District Committee meeting for Ballincollig-Carrigaline will be 13th June @2.30pm. CCC will be in touch with regard to location.
Induction training for Elected Members
Cork County Council nominates all the 55 Members of the Council to attend the training session being organised by the Association of Irish Local Government for all Elected Members to take place on 26th June 2014 in Cork.