THURSDAY last proved to be a historic day with the inaugural meeting of the newly formed Claremorris/Swinford Municipal District of Mayo County Council taking place.
The ten newly elected councillors met for the first time and all welcomed the fact that the areas had been combined. Swinford had previously been split into the general areas of Castlebar, Ballina and Claremorris.
The fact that five of the ten councillors were members of Fine Gael meant that party would hold the balance of power within the new district.
When it came to the voting for the new cathaoirleach, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Murray supported Cllr Tom Connolly for the position. Cllr Connolly was proposed by Cllr John Cribbin and seconded by Cllr Patsy O’Brien, with Cllr Michael Smyth being proposed by Cllr John Caulfield and seconded by Cllr Damien Ryan. Following the vote, Cllr Connolly succeeded by six votes to four, receiving the support of his four Fine Gael colleagues and Cllr Murray.
In a similar votes, Cllr Patsy O’Brien secured the Leas Cathaoirleach position, again defeating Cllr Caulfield.
After the elections, Cllr Damien Ryan stated that with the new municipal district contained one third of the council’s members and it was only right that they would get a fair division of the municipal budget.
“It’s only fair that it would be split in ten ways so that councillors can identify worthwhile projects. There is no other way that it will work,” said Cllr Ryan.
Cllr Neil Cruise stated that the new area was the largest in county, stretching from Shraheen to Shrule.
“I hope we receive one-third of the resources when the budget is decided. The area requires a lot of work. I’m originally from Ballyhaunis and am very interested in the district and want to see it prosper also,” added Cllr Cruise.
Cllr Smyth stated the reality of the situation was that they would not receive one-third of the resources, but Cllr Michael Burke stated that their allocations would be up by 50 percent because they now have three councillors in the Ballinrobe area.
However, Cllrs O’Brien and Finn disputed this and pointed out that roadworks allocations were made by the executive, embracing every area. Cllr Finn stated that even though Claremorris had only two representatives in the past, the area had not suffered.
Loftus in Ballina chair
The Ballina Municipal District also held its AGM last week, with Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Loftus taking the chair.
The Crossmolina native defeated Fine Gael’s Jarlath Munnelly by four votes to two. Independents Seamus Weir and Mark Duffy both voted for Cllr Loftus, with Cllr Weir taking up the position of Leas Cathaoirleach.