By Dan Walsh at Wexford County Council annual general meeting
Veteran Wexford town and Labour Party member Cllr George Lawlor was elected as the 125th Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council at the annual general meeting held in the council chamber at Carricklawn, Wexford, this afternoon. He defeated Fine Gael’s Cllr Frank Staples by 21 votes to 8.
Cllr Lawlor said his election was “a singular honour for his family and the Labour Party” and he thanked the members for their support. Cllr Lawlor’s wife Yvonne and his daughter Rachel were present in the chamber, while using modern technology, two other daughters, Ruth in Edinburgh and Sarah in Dubai and preparing for a flight to Dallas were able to congratulate their proud Dad on his great achievement in a history-making link up on the big screen.
Cllr Lawlor outlined his aims for the coming year and stated his wish to be “a Cathaoirleach across the county” and promised to support projects in Enniscorthy, New Ross, Gorey-Kilmuckridge and Rosslare with the same vigour as his native Wexford.
Cllr Lawlor was proposed by Cllr Maura Bell, who described him as “vastly experienced, was Mayor of Wexford four times, a role he performed with “dignity and ability” and in a light-hearted gesture she referred that he could be “better known for singing!”
Cllr Ger Carthy seconded Cllr Lawlor. “He was almost 18 years on the Wexford Borough Council, 14 years on Wexford County Council, Mayor of Wexford on four occasions and was “very well positioned to take the chair.”
Cllr Cathal Byrne proposed Cllr Frank Staples for the position. He was on the old Wexford district council in 2014, re-elected in 2019 in the Rosslare district and was Mayor Wexford in 2017 and had done sterling work for mental health.
Cllr Oliver Walsh seconded Cllr Byrne’s proposal. “Cllr Staples was Mayor of Wexford and Chair of Rosslare District; I think he would make an excellent chair and I am happy to second the proposal.”
When the roll-call vote was computed Cllr George Lawlor came in with 21 votes, and declared elected Cathaoirleach, while Cllr Frank Staples received eight votes.
The position of Leas-Cathaoirleach was bestowed on Cllr Michael Whelan, proposed by Cllr John Fleming and seconded by Cllr Michael Sheehan.
His opponent was Cllr Bridín Murphy, the outgoing Cathaoirleach of New Ross Municipal District, proposed by Cllr Jim Moore and seconded by Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan. Cllr Whelan defeated Cllr Murphy by 21 votes to 8.
Cllr Whelan thanked the members for their support and pledged his support as understudy to Cllr Lawlor over the coming year.
At the meeting tributes were paid to the excellent work of the outgoing Cathaoirleach Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy and Leas-Cathaoirleach Cllr Anthony Connick for their work during 2021-22. Cllr Murphy said she enjoyed “a very busy year” coming out of the Covid restrictions and outlined a long list of achievements. “I attended 40 events, not including meetings, since May 1st,” she added.
Chief Executive Officer, Tom Enright, paid tribute to the work of Cllr Murphy and he also welcomed Cllr Lawlor to the chair. He described it as “an exceptional year”.
Tributes were also paid to the family and friends of Council worker Billy Kinsella who lost his life while on Council duty near his home at Ballythomas on February 18th during Storm Eunance and sympathy and remembrance were conveyed to his wife Rita and son Conor and, also, his work colleagues.
Attendance at the annual general meeting included Deputies Brendan Howlin and Verona Murphy and Senator Malcolm Byrne.