Election of city's new lord mayor to take place away from City Hall for first time

Election of city's new lord mayor to take place away from City Hall for first time

The sports hall at Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig.

CORK City Council’s AGM, during which the new Lord Mayor of Cork will be elected, is set to take place in the sports hall of Coláiste Choilm in Ballincollig on Friday evening.

It will be the first time a Cork Lord Mayor will be elected off City Hall’s historic campus.

Traditionally the AGM is held in City Hall’s council chamber.

However, last year’s meeting, during which the incumbent Lord Mayor, Cllr Joe Kavanagh was elected was held in City Hall’s concert hall to facilitate social distancing.

This year the concert hall is being used as a mass vaccination centre.

The decision to hold the meeting in Ballincollig passed 18 votes to 9 following a lengthy debate at Monday night’s full council meeting.

Fianna Fáil is next in line for the chain of office.

The party’s nominee to contest the mayoral election is expected to be Ballincollig-based Cllr Colm Kelleher.

Cllr Colm Kelleher.
Cllr Colm Kelleher.

Speaking at the meeting, Cork City Council's Director of Services for Corporate and International Affairs, Paul Moynihan, said officials were very conscious that the preferred wish of the majority of councillors was to hold a physical meeting.

He said that a prospective candidate for the role of Lord Mayor suggested a location in Ballincollig and that such a venue was explored, along with other locations.

“We checked that location and we checked out a number of other locations, including city hotels.

“Our preference and our recommendation to members was the location in Ballincollig on the basis of its capacity.” 

Mr Moynihan said that the venue would be able to facilitate social distancing and that it is also available to the council a couple of days prior to the meeting in order for all the necessary preparations to be made.

The Lord Mayor Cllr Joe Kavanagh named the Ballincollig venue as the sports hall of Coláiste Choilm and said it was the only alternative location which “ticked all the boxes”.

However, some councillors were dissatisfied that only one option was put forward.

“I’m actually disappointed that there is only one proposal being put to the floor of council tonight.

“I actually thought it was agreed in whips that there was a number of suitable venues,” Independent councillor Thomas Moloney said.

Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent said a venue which would “be seen to be neutral” would, in his opinion, have been the optimal solution.

“No disrespect to any potential candidate on Friday night or any potential venue - I would have thought a venue that would be seen to be neutral would have been the way to go because it looks otherwise that you’re presupposing an outcome,” he said.

Independent councillor Ken O’Flynn expressed his frustration that councillors were getting “bogged down by such minutia” and said there were “far more important issues to be discussed”.

“The reality is that we have to ensure that we have the biggest venue possible if we’re not able to use our own ballroom and we have to ensure that the safety of the staff is there,” he said.

Independent councillor Lorna Bogue asked if outdoor venues were considered.

"If we're asking people to think outdoors, shouldn't we consider it ourselves?” she said.

Mr Moynihan later stated that the sports hall in Ballincollig was simply his “recommendation”.

“There were a number of alternatives put forward and as one councillor said, one by one by one they fell away,” he said.

“There were other locations that could not make themselves available.” 

Mr Moynihan said the other option which could be suitable was a city centre hotel, which was later named as the Clarion Hotel.

He said in his view, the sports hall would be a more appropriate venue to hold the AGM as there would not be exclusivity at the hotel.

After an hour long debate, councillors voted in favour of holding the AGM at the sports hall.

The meeting will start at 7pm on Friday - pushed back half an hour to facilitate councillors who have to travel to Ballincollig.

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