MIDLETON-based county councillor Noel Collins has completed 50 years of service as a councillor in Cork - a feat unmatched anywhere in Ireland.
Colleagues on Cork County Council have paid tribute to the much-loved councillor and social justice campaigner.
Cork County Council Chief Executive Tim Lucey addressed Mr Collins at a meeting of the local authority yesterday, saying: “Cork County Council has been in existence for 118 years and you've been here for 50 of those – 42% of the time. The fact you have been re-elected so many times is a testament to you.”
Famously, Mr Collins has shunned modern technology - he has no mobile phone or landline and uses an old-fashioned typewriter to compose letters to constituents.
Independent colleague Cllr Declan Hurley and Cllr Collin's constituent colleague Cllr Mary Linehan Foley said it was an honour to be present to celebrate the moment.
"There are not many who can say that they have served for 50 years. Everyone in East Cork knows him,” said Ms Linehan Foley.
Blarney-Macroom cpuncillor Des O'Grady added that he felt he had known Cllr Collins long before he had met him due to his constant correspondence in the letters pages of the Evening Echo and Irish Examiner.
“I always felt he was on the side of social justice,” he said.
Fine Gael Cllr Antony Barry, who replaced him as a representative in Carrigtowhill in district changes some years ago, said he was a hard act to follow.
“Noel's work rate in representing Carrigtwohill was phenomenal. When I was elected I knew I was filling very big boots.”
Fiann Fáil Fermoy representative Frank O'Flynn said: “It's 50 years of a lifetime of service to the people of Cork county. He was always a man of the people. Politics is local on the ground and the people wouldn't have a bad word to say about him”
Bandon-Kinsale representative Kevin Murphy of Fine Gael said Cllr Collin's longevity in office had never been done before and will probably never be achieved again, while Fine Gael's Ballincollig-Carrigaline Cllr Derry Canty said younger councillors in his day had referred to Collins as “our dad” and would go to him for advice.
Cllr Collins said: "This event is unexpected and most humbling. I deeply appreciate the kind words. Blessed is the one who expects nothing. He shall never be disappointed."