Donie Butler, the centre manager of MacDonagh Junction in Kilkenny, has been elected as the new president of Kilkenny Chamber.
He was elected at the Chamber’s annual general meeting held in the Pembroke Hotel in Kilkenny on Thursday. He replaces John Purcell, chief executive of KCLR, who handed over the chain of office after having served as president since September 2010.
The board of directors for the Chamber has also been elected for the coming year as well as a new executive committee: president Donie Butler, vice presidents Martin Costelloe, Murphy Jewellers and Valerie Keeley, honorary secretary Owen Sweeney, honorary treasurer Phil Walsh, John Purcell, communications/ media officer, David Culliton and Tom O’Connor.
The AGM was attended by the Mayor Seán Ó hArgáin, Chamber members and a range of guests from other business and community groups from Kilkenny City and County. County manager Joe Crockett, AIB regional manager Eddie Buckley and James Kiernan of Chambers Ireland also addressed the meeting.
Outgoing president John Purcell reported on the difficult financial challenges faced by the Chamber over the last number of years and explained in detail the action taken by the Board of Directors of the company to ensure that the organisation remained viable and relevant in the current difficult business environment.
Losses in consecutive years had forced a major overhaul of the structure of the organisation in recent months, a process that is being completed.
Looking back over his tenure as president, Mr Purcell said that while the financial challenges facing the organisation had been tackled head-on, other important work in representing the interests of the business community had been undertaken.
“We have forged very strong links with a number of business organisations, links that continue to grow and develop; we have sought to robustly represent the interests of the business community on a range of issues from commercial rates to traffic management and we have held a number of hugely successful business networking events, something which continues to be a priority of the newly restructured Chamber,” he said.
He thanked all with whom he had worked with as Chamber president and wished his successor a successful term of office. “Donie has been a conscientious and energetic board member of the Chamber who has done Trojan work over the last number of years. I wish him well for the future and I look forward to seeing the fruits of his labours over the next year,” he said.
The new president is a native of Kilkenny and the father of five children. He commenced his working career in the hotel sector, and moved to the media marketing business with the Kilkenny People in 1972 until he departed to join the Football Association of Ireland as commercial director in late 1985.
Upon leaving the FAI in 1996, Mr Butler set up his own sports marketing consultancy business and succeeded in securing the PGA contract to stage, direct and manage the AIB Irish Seniors Open Golf championship in 1997, ’98 and ’99, the latter event being staged at Mount Juliet. He returned to Kilkenny in 2005 to set up the Kilkenny Voice newspaper and now manages the €300 million MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre, which includes retail, leisure, residential and heritage development since it opened in 2007.
Speaking following his election as president, Mr Butler said his priority was ensuring that the new Kilkenny Chamber is “fit for purpose” to meet the needs of businesses that are operating in a very challenging business environment and that need professional representation, the comfort of knowing that a united business community is there to help them if they need it and an organisation that organises functions and events to facilitate business networking and development of contacts.
“We have rebuilt a new ‘fit for purpose’ Chamber and we are now in a position to use the resources of the Chamber to the betterment of its members in terms of conducting much needed research in a number of key areas, the marketing of Kilkenny as a destination for investment as well as campaigning on behalf of our members on issues which are so important to them such as commercial/water rates, traffic mobility in the city, parking and coherent development and future planning of the city,” he said.