Laytown's Cllr Tom Kelly was elected Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council on Monday, following a vote in which he was supported by his fellow independents and Fine Gael councillors. The independent councillor takes over the chain of office from Fine Gael's Cllr Gerry O'Connor who had been chairman for the past year.
The new chairman said one of his main concerns was policing and the need for additional gardai and garda stations.
“We no longer have a station in Laytown. This county is neglected in this regard. We have one garda for every 600 people, while in the west they have one for every 300.”
Cllr Kelly was proposed for chair by Cllr Brian Fitzgerald (Ind) who said Cllr Kelly had been a member of the Council for a very long time and had deserved the chair for a very long time. He was seconded by Cllr Paddy Meade (FG).
Cllr Sinead Burke was proposed for the chair by her Sinn Fein colleagues and the Fianna Fail councilors abstained.
Cllr Ronan McKenna explained that Fianna Fail had planned to nominate Cllr Wayne Harding for the chair this year.
“We will not be nominating. We will leave it vacant, because there is a vacant chair at the Harding family's home today,” he said, referring to the recent sudden death of Cllr Harding's brother, Gary.
Cllr Kelly was elected by 20 votes to seven and there were 10 abstentions.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael's Cllr Suzanne Jamal was elected leas cathoirleach, also with the support of the independents and Fine Gael.
Cllr Maria O'Kane was proposed by the Sinn Fein Group and Cllr Tommy Reilly by Fianna Fail. Cllr Jamal was elected by 20 votes to seven for Cllr O'Kane and ten for Cllr O'Reilly.
The Chief Executive, Jackie Maguire thanked Cllr O'Connor for his hard work over the past year.
“You were never found wanting and fought very hard for the county over the year. You were always available to us, if we needed you,” she said.
Cllr Brian Fitzgerald congratulated Cllr O'Connor on the excellent year and the way in which he carried out his duties at home and abroad.Policing tips agenda for new Cathaoirleach