Getting people off the dole queues and back into employment will be the biggest aim for the new Meara of Ballina, Cllr Willie Nolan, who feels that tourism can be the driving force for achieving that goal.
The Fianna Fáil councillor was elected unopposed as the new Meara of Ballina succeeding Independent, Cllr Peter Clarke as the first citizen of the north Mayo capital at last week’s AGM of Ballina Town Council. His party colleague Cllr Johnny O’Malley was elected as the deputy Meara having defeated Fine Gael councillor Josie Egan 6-3 in a vote.
This will be Cllr Nolan’s second time to wear the mayoral chain having previously served as Meara for Ballina in 2001. Cllr Nolan told The Mayo News that there were a number of projects which he would like to see progressed in his year in office, all of which he says will be aimed at reducing the number of people on the dole.
Ballina has the highest unemployment rate in Mayo but Cllr Nolan believes the opening of the Jackie Clarke Collection in Autumn along with the enhancement of the Belleek Woods will drive tourism and create employment.
“The main things I will be promoting will be fundamental for creating jobs and help take people off the dole queue. I see the Jackie Clarke as important to this and will contribute an awful lot to the town, and provide a forum for visitors to read up and research Irish history. If 30 or 40 students come from an American University as part of their curriculum to Ballina, it will have a positive knock-on effect on the town from a business point of view,” he said.
Among the other projects Cllr Nolan said he would like to advance was the Salmon Life Centre which he would like to bring to the planning stage and would work with the various agencies to do this. He added that he was also looking forward to The Gathering Ireland 2013 and playing a part in attracting visitors to the town.
Ballina is regarded as the Salmon Capital of Ireland and Cllr Nolan said the town had unique qualities which he feels need to be promoted better and will be calling for an outside agency to help achieve this.
Cllr Nolan was first elected in 1999 and he feels that one of the main achievements of the Council was the protection of the town centre and they will rigorously continue that policy.
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