IF Westport’s wonderful success as the winner of The Irish Times Best Place to Live in Ireland is a sign of future good fortune, well Fine Gael’s Cllr Ollie Gannon has been elevated to the position of the town’s First Citizen at the perfect time.
As a committed Covey, Cllr Gannon’s record of conviction about his home town has been well documented by The Mayo News. Past priorities include the continued fostering of volunteerism, particularly the care of the more vulnerable, conservation of the town’s many heritage sites and employment.
At his acceptance speech last week, the new Cathaoirleach said: “Westport is a great town and without doubt is recognised as one of the most progressive of the existing 88 local councils around the country. The position Westport finds itself in is not the result of any accident, it is down to the work of this current council’s elected members and council management. Previous councils have also contributed in a very positive way with good vision and decisions made in the best interest of the community. The strong link between the town council and the many voluntary and business organisations in Westport has also contributed in no small way to the success and continued development of our town.”
Cathaoirleach Gannon observed that as Westport had ‘recently been chosen as one of the only three towns in the country to be included in the Heritage Towns Initiative’, it was important that the council fully recognise this and protect and enhance this heritage’.
He praised the town’s many employers, particularly Allergan, where he is an employee.
“I would like to congratulate the Managing Director of Allergan, Pat O’Donnell, his team, and all the employees of the company for their recent success, which will involve big investment in, and expansion of the Westport facility, by the company’s US parent group,” Cllr Gannon said.
Outlining his key objectives for the coming year, he said the development of the new Civic Offices on the site of the old convent, was very important.
“The council now owns this building. The condition of the building is such that work needs to start soon to prevent any deterioration of the property. This is a valuable local asset and needs to be maintained.”
The development of the proposed new facilities for soccer club, Westport United, in the grounds of Westport Demesne, must also be expedited.
“This council will work closely with the club and be as supportive as we can be to help bring this project to fruition. I would like to wish the club’s finance committee every success in their fundraising endeavours. I would also like to appeal to the general public to support this project,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Cathaoirleach Gannon said the imminent work on the Town Hall would ‘represent another great facility for our town’. He noted also that the new Community Centre for the Quay area was at an advanced stage of planning.
“As a council representative on the Quay Committee for the past three years, I have witnessed first-hand the dedication of so many people working for their local area,” he added.
Before concluding by thanking his colleagues for the ‘great honour’ and the staff of the town council for their excellent work, he highlighted a project that he has championed for several years: the clean-up and landscaping of the Rocky, at Carrabawn.
“The Rocky was the burial site for many people in the Westport area who died during the Great Famine of the 1840s. This is part of our history and should not be forgotten. This period witnessed one million Irish people die of starvation and another million leaving our shores,” he concluded.
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