Insulation in every council house and a wireless city – just two of the things that new Mayor Sean O’ hArgain hopes to champion during his term of office.
It was the overview of Mayor O’ hArgain’s aims that prompted Cathaoirleach Paul Cuddihy to jokingly remind him that he had “12 months, and not five years” to achieve it.
Mayor O’ hArgain said he wished to build on the work of the late Joe Cody, who he said promised and delivered on the demand for central heating in every local authority house in Kilkenny.
“I want us now to commit to insulating those same houses to the best possible standards and making them affordable for our citizens in the future,” he said.
The new Mayor also said he wanted to see progress on us becoming the first wireless city in Ireland with free wi-fi access in public places, starting with our council offices, the parade and High Street.
Heritage: Mayor O’ hArgain said he intends to continue with the effort to preserve what is best about Kilkenny’s heritage, from leading the restoration of St Mary’s church, the City Walls project, to ensuring the completion of the Talbot Tower and to supporting the ongoing works in Rothe House and St Canice’s Cathedral.
Brewery: The Mayor praised his predecessor David Fitzgerald for his efforts to involve the public on what is to happen to the St Francis Abbey Brewery site, following the recent council purchase.
“As the new mayor, I intend to ensure that it will stay that way,” he said.
“It will be the people of this city, not the vested interests, who will decide.”
Health: Mayor O’ hArgain said he would do whatever he could to make Kilkenny a place that encouraged people to be as healthy, fit and active as they can
“I want the year to start and end with the Mayor’s Walk,” he said.
“So from this Saturday when I will lead a walk from the Parade to the Linear Park at Riverside Drive and back, I intend to lead a Mayor’s Walk every Saturday I can.”
Transport: The new Mayor, who himself rides a bicycle to work, said that Kilkenny needed to be less reliant on cars to get around. He said he wished to emulate Dublin and provide a free bike scheme for the city. He also said that there needed to be a push toward providing a local environmentally-friendly small bus service, which will reduce city centre traffic.
Amenities: “I want us to deliver a skatepark facility for the young people of this city as we have all promised,” he said.
Festivals: The Mayor said it was time to develop a single festival box office and administration facility for all the festivals. He also said he wished to fight for the return of two festivals to the city: Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and Oireachtas na Gaeilge.
Arts: He said he hoped to progress the development of the Butler Gallery project to house the city’s art collection.
He said the city needed and deserved a 21st century public library facility.
“I also want to encourage culture in all its forms, from hip hop dancing to sean nós singing, from community painting and craft workshops to reading initiatives and children’s book clubs to be part of what we are,” he said.