Kilkenny Borough Council has been returned to its full complement of members, with the co-opting of new Fine Gael councillor Jimmy Leahy, at last week’s meeting in City Hall.
A borough council seat has been vacant since the decision of former councillor Betty Manning to resign from local politics in May. Mr Leahy ran unopposed for the seat in a private Fine Gael party vote.
“It is my great pleasure to propose Jimmy Leahy to fill the seat vacated by my colleague and friend Councillor Betty Manning,” said Cllr Martin Brett (FG).
“It is never easy to come through a selection convention. Tonight is a wonderful night for Jimmy Leahy.”
Mr Leahy is from St John’s – an area of the city where Fine Gael have been attempting to find a suitable candidate for some time.
“He has built up a branch that is the envy of other places, and he has done the foot-soldiering,” said Cllr Brett.
“This is a wonderful occasion for his friends and family.”
Party colleague Cllr David Fitzgerald (FG), who seconded the proposal, said Cllr Leahy deserved the seat after so much hard work.
“He has fought on behalf of the people of Kilkenny, and of St John’s in particular,” he said.
“He is a well-known contributor to the pages of our local newspaper. I am sure he will be an advocate for the people of the city and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead.”
Jimmy Leahy was then sworn in as councillor by Mayor Sean O’ hArgain.
“I am very honoured to be here tonight,” he said.
“I am proud to have this opportunity to work hard for my city in the coming years.
Cllr Leahy ran as an independent in the 2004 and 2009 local elections, missing out by a handful of votes on both occasions. He said that the challenges of being an independent candidate can be ‘soul-destroying’.
Cllr Leahy joined the Fine Gael Party in 2009, at the invitation of now Minister Phil Hogan. He thanked all his colleagues within the party and parish for their hard work and support in recent months.
He thanked former mayor and councillor Betty Manning, whose vacant council seat he now fills. He said she had had an exemplary 13 years of service in local politics. He also paid tribute to his family.
“I’d like to thank my wife Catherine, who has been my rock in more ways than just politics,” said Cllr Leahy.
“I especially want to thank my parents for the good opportunities they afforded me, my brothers and sisters. And finally, the welcome here this evening has been overwhelming. I look forward to working with all of you.”
The Fianna Fail group welcomed the newest council member.
“I have known the Leahy family since Jimmy was in nappies really,” said Cllr Joe Reidy (FF).
“I know that Cllr Leahy has big shoes to fill in the shoes of Betty Manning, but I have no doubt he will be able to manage it.”
Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Green Party) spoke on behalf of himself and the absent Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Fein).
“On behalf of the Green Party and Kathleen Funchion, I would like to welcome Jimmy Leahy,” said
“We may not always see eye-to-eye here, but we have a job of work to do and it is an important one. You are certainly a welcome addition to the council, and you have a lot of things to contribute.”
Mayor O’ hArgain echoed Cllr Noonan’s comments.
“I think people with views to express are welcome here, and people who wish to contribute to make this city a better place are welcome here,” he said.