With just two weeks left to the end of my term as Lord Mayor of Cork I am wondering where the year has gone. A year dominated by Covid and the restrictions it brought but we have all had to re- invent ourselves and look at ways of doing things differently and at the same time safely.
Of course, I have had many challenges but to me a challenge is an opportunity, an opportunity to re- imagine ourselves and to look at ways to continue living our lives in a different but safe way.
Every week has been like this and last week was indeed no different. The vaccines are being rolled out at an incredible rate and the sooner that the entire population is fully vaccinated the better.
Maybe then we can really start to return our lives and indeed our way of living to some degree of normality. In the meantime, we really do need to continue to observe some degree of personal responsibility to those around us by observing the recommended public health guidelines.
Unfortunately, not everyone is complying with these guidelines. As well as hand, cough and sneeze etiquette, wearing of a face covering the key recommendation by the health experts is that we need to continue to avoid gathering in large numbers, either indoors or outdoors. The new variants of Covid are particularly transmissible and the increasing large numbers of people gathering in various locations across the City has been an issue of ongoing serious concern for the authorities.
Key areas such as Kennedy Quay, Albert Quay and Grand Parade continue to be a serious cause of concern because of these large gatherings. I know the Port of Cork have taken precautionary measures on a number of quayside locations for Health and Safety reasons. Our quays are a working commercial area and from time to time we have vessels loading and unloading there. Hence the need to protect the riverside portion of the quays and the relevant equipment such as cranes, trucks and other relevant haulage equipment at the quayside.
The Cork City Council cleaning team are out and about from 7am to 10pm daily emptying bins and doing their best to keep the streets clean. The Gardaí and indeed the Public Order Unit have been very busy policing the city and unfortunately have had to even make some arrests last weekend.
This is disappointing. I spent a number of days last week speaking on a number of radio stations, both local and national, on these issues.
While I can appreciate the pent up frustration of so many young people, they are not alone in this.
So many people have made so many sacrifices over the past year and our business community have suffered significantly. It is great to see our business community opening their doors again and I hope that people will support local businesses and particularly our city centre business community as they return. They need our support now more than ever.
Last week, the Lady Mayoress, Stephanie and I attended a number of events in the community as part of the “Lady Mayoresses Coffee Trail”. We couldn’t have the annual Lady Mayoresses Coffee Morning which would always raise significant funding for Marymount so rather than cancel the event we decided to reimagine the way we could deliver this event. While we were unable to create any fundraising stream, we decided that we would reach out to a number of locations across our city and visit for a coffee. This was important to us.
Among various other venues we visited The Young At Heart Group in Douglas and despite the poor weather this certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of all who attended. We also visited Newbury House in Mayfield and Westgate Foundation in Ballincollig as part of the Coffee Trail. It was a huge success and many thanks to Rosella and the team at Newbury House and Julie and her team in Westgate Foundation for your warm welcome and significantly contributing to the success of The Lady Mayoresses Coffee Trail. Thank you so much.
Last week, I participated as Lord Mayor in my last Community Response Forum Meeting.
This magnificent forum reaches into so many parts of our community and really showcases so well the incredible contribution of so many of our volunteers who make such a positive difference to so many people’s lives during these very difficult and challenging times. Well done all and thank you.
Last week, I was delighted to take part in a tree planting ceremony at Carbery Grove Housing Development in Knocknaheeny. Delivering new homes in our community is so important and the planting of new trees with the children of St Marys on the Hill Primary school symbolises new hope, positivity and prosperity for our future.
It was wonderful to spend some time in Harley Street at the heart of the Victorian Quarter last week to launch the magnificent wall mural titled “Hands of Hope”. This magnificent piece was organised by the Trigon Hotels in conjunction with Cope foundation, Ability Cork and Kevin O Brien Street Art.
The Lady Mayoress, Stephanie and I were joined by the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, Aaron Mansworth and his team at the Trigon Hotels and of course Emer who was the star of the show. A fabulous piece of street art that is well worth a visit in Harley Street next to the Metropole Hotel.
I was delighted to attend the North Mon Annual PPU Student Awards last week. It was great to see the three schools represented at this event and well done to everyone who participated in this outdoor event. Well done all.
Over the year I have recorded many messages online or by video in the Lord Mayors Chamber. This is indeed the “new normal” and last week I was delighted to record a greeting for Reverend Michael O Sullivan of the Cork Unitarian Church in advance of the Three Faiths Service coming up next week.
Also, online, last week I was delighted to attend the Network Cork Businesswoman of the year Awards. Congratulations to all nominees and of course those that have been recognised for their incredible contribution to Business in Cork over the past challenging and difficult year. Well done all.
As my year as Lord Mayor, I was delighted that my term has been significantly community focussed and a day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t engaged in some shape or form on dealing with local and community related issues. Last week was indeed no different and I had quite a few meetings with local residents and groups dealing with issues of concern in our local community.
Stay safe, stay healthy and support our local businesses.