Housing, the former brewery site, and the vitality of our rural towns will be key focus areas over the next year according to the new Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council Matt Doran.
The Fianna Fail councillor was elected to the chair on Friday afternoon, uncontested. He was proposed by party colleague Peter 'Chap' Cleere and seconded by Cllr Andrew McGuinness.
Cllr Doran has strong links to communities throughout the county, perhaps most notably in Windgap, Kilmoganny and Callan. He first became a councillor in 2002 when he was co-opted to replace Liam Aylward.
Cllr Cleere said that Cllr Doran had got to where he was through hard work.
“He is available 24/7,” he said.
“He is also a very shrewds and a serious operator.”
Cllr Doran thanked his nominator and seconder, and his other colleagues for their support. He paid tribute to his predecessor Mary Hilda Cavanagh, saying she had set a very high standard.
“I wish to thank the members for putting your trust in me to carry out the onerous role of cathaoirleach for the next 12 months,” he said.
“I want to welcome and thank members of my family and colleagues for their presence here today, in particular, Caroline, and our two girls Rachel and Aimee and the two men in their lives, Josh and Paddy. I would also like to acknowledge my sisters Mary and Claire and my brothers Paul and Ben, and their families who are always there when I need them.”
Cllr Doran also thanked parish priest Fr Nicholas Flavin, as well as TDs Bobby Aylward and John McGuinness. He made special mention of former TD and MEP Liam Aylward.
The new cathaoirleach said he was looking forward to the year ahead with confidence, and was determined to chair meetings 'fairly but firmly'.
He set out a number of policy areas in which he particularly wished to see progress over the 12 months to come.
“Housing and homelessness are areas which are both long term issues, but where short term positive interventions will help those in the greatest need and restore public confidence that we can provide the type of services which county councils are, in my opinion, best placed to provide,” he said.
“In terms of planning and development, the Abbey Quarter provides both a significant challenge and opportunity for Kilkenny,” he said.
“Of course, a development of such importance will not be without its worries and concerns. However, I am also certain that this chamber will be capable of making informed decisionsfor the good of Kilkenny City and county, and I believe that the decisions taken to date on the Abbey Quarter site are correct, and will be seen for the greater good.”
Cllr Doran said that people should remember the site is an investement in the future job prospects for young people and a statement that Kilkenny is a progressive place in which business can thrive.
A councillor in the Kilkenny City West area, the new cathaoirleach also set out his stall in relation to the areas outside the city, and the difficulties facing many rural communities
“As the local representative of a number of such towns and villages, I will take every opportunity as cathaoirleach to press for a better deal for rural development,” he said.
“I will advocate on their behalf and will insist that issues such as broadband, rural crime, safety in the home, transport and local tourism issues are all kept on the council agenda.”