Fianna Fáil's councillor Tony Fitzgerald to be next Lord Mayor of Cork

Fianna Fáil's councillor Tony Fitzgerald to be next Lord Mayor of Cork
Fianna Fáil City Councillor Tony Fitzgerald. Picture: Denis Minihane.

KNOCKNAHEENY councillor Tony Fitzgerald is set to become the next Lord Mayor after he was confirmed as Fianna Fáil's nominee for the role.

Mr Fitzgerald, a HSE community worker, will succeed the current Lord Mayor, Fine Gael's Des Cahill, on June 16, under an agreed system of voting between the parties on the council.

He will be the first Fianna Fáil councillor to hold the role since Cllr Mary Shields in 2014/15.

At the start of this council term, elected members voted to abandon the traditional pact system that had operated in the city for decades.

Instead, they favoured the d'Hondt system, which would see the role of Lord Mayor shared between the parties more evenly based on the number of seats held per party.

It resulted in Fianna Fáil securing two of the five terms, with Sinn Féin, Fine Gael and Independents all getting one.

It is expected that the majority of councillors will, therefore, back Mr Fitzgerald's nomination.

First elected to Cork City Council in 2004, Mr Fitzgerald has established a stronghold in the north-west ward. He has increased his vote each time around, including a 7% jump in the 2014 local elections.

"I am delighted to have the ongoing support in the ward," he said.

Since being elected to council thirteen years ago, Mr Fitzgerald has chaired the city's Joint Policing Committee and served on a number of committees and working groups.

He was Deputy Lord Mayor to Terry Shannon in 2011 and has spearheaded the city's efforts under the Healthy Cities initiative.

In September 2016, Mr Fitzgerald was nominated by the World Health Organisation to participate in the political vision group which will oversee the development of the WHO's European Healthy Cities Network.

He was the only Irish politician nominated.

Among the issues likely to dominate Mr Fitzgerald's tenure are the potential merger of city and county councils and the prospect of a directly elected Lord Mayor.

Both issues are expected to be addressed in the forthcoming report on the future of local government in Cork.

Mr Fitzgerald said he is 'awaiting' the outcome of the report.

While he was keen to keep the rest of his aims for the year ahead under wraps, Mr Fitzgerald revealed one element of his plans. 

"Early years education is very important to me," he said. "I would like to put some focus on that area."

The Knocknaheeny-based councillor was keen to point out that his family hails from both sides of the city.

"My father is from Turner's Cross and my mother is from Fairhill, so I've got good experience of north and southside," he said.

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