Cllr Mary Linehan Foley has made political history by becoming the first Deputy Mayoress of Cork County.
The Youghal based Cllr was elected unopposed, along with Fianna Fail Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy, at the Annual General Meeting of the Authority held on Friday last, 22 June.
Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Independent grouping in Cork County backed the Councillors for the executive roles. However, Sinn Fein would not back either candidate.
Party Chairman, Des O’Grady, said Sinn Fein believed “in using the D'Hont system when agreeing the Mayoral Chain of Office.”
D'Hont is a form of allocating seats in party-list proportional representation.
By agreeing the use of this system, Party pacts would no longer operate in Cork County Council when deciding a Mayor.
Like Cork City Council, the decision would have meant that Sinn Fein and Fine Gael would have had a term in the Mayoral Chair.
Fine Gael did not field a candidate for Mayor again this year, choosing to back both Cllrs Linehan Foley and Murphy, allowing both take up their positions unopposed.
Mayor Murphy, a wheelchair user, is originally from Beara and lives in Ballylickey near Bantry. He is an avid community person with a proven track record on delivering for his community.
He was first elected to Cork County Council in 2008 for Fianna Fail, and was returned to Council in 2014 on the 12th count.
Throughout his term in office the Mayor said he will focus on fighting for better funding for roads, and developing and utilising our coastline as places for tourism and economic activity.
He said he would also use his office to “highlight the everyday physical obstacles which people with disabilities face when trying to navigate the streets of our towns and villages.”
Deputy Mayoress, Mary Linehan Foley, was nominated by Cllr Kevin Conway and seconded by Fianna Fail Chairman, Seamus McGrath.
Accompanied by husband John, family and grandchildren, the Deputy Mayoress said she was “bowled over” and “proud” to be elected to the executive role.
The mother of five said she was delighted to be chosen as Deputy Mayoress by her colleagues and is looking forward to supporting Mayor Murphy and acting on his behalf when he is away.
Cllr Linehan Foley comes from a family with a long history of political engagement, with her father Paddy Linehan serving Youghal at Council level for 43 years.
Following her father’s retirement from political life, Mary followed in his footsteps, and was elected to Youghal Town Council in 1999, and every subsequent Local Election.
The new Mayoress paid tribute to her family for being her rock, “a calming influence” when things get tough.
The outing Mayor, Declan Hurley, said he began the year with a “baptism of fire” with the publication of the McKinnon report on the proposed boundary extensions of Cork City.
He said the County had avoided a “doomsday scenario” and have obtained the best possible end result.
The Independent Cllr said “at the end of the day Cork isn’t about boundaries, it’s about people and it’s about building the region as a whole, city and county together.”
The outgoing Mayor said one of the many highlight of his year was “meeting the people on the ground. They are the unsung heroes.” He said it was an honour to be able to acknowledge the positive work of so many through their contributions to their local communities and Cork society as a whole.”
Cllr Hurley, who ended his term in office as he began it, by meeting with the Minister for Transport Shane Ross, to seek extra funding for the County’s failing road infrastructure, said another great highlight was meeting Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
He said “They are very down to earth, very easy to talk to. Having been with Prince Charles throughout the day the points he raised were very relevant to Cork. He wasn’t just passing through-he was briefed and knew what the issues were.”
The immediate past Mayor quipped on meeting Prince Charles, Heir to the Throne, and asked the Lord Mayor if both City and County Mayors were still talking.
The Local Authority has employed a driver for the Mayoral office this year, when Seamus McGrath Fianna Fail highlighted serious health and safety concerns on ending his term in office last June.
Cllr Hurley, who had use of the service during the recent Royal visit said “it’s not a luxury it’s a necessity.”
He said he had travelled over 40,000 kilometres in his own car around the county in the past twelve months.
“you are out late at night. You have early starts in the morning. You are trying to brief yourself on events you are going to. Having a driver gives you the space to concentrate on your briefings.”