THE newly-elected Lord Mayor of Cork pledged to lead the recovery of the city’s economy as we learn to live with Covid-19, building on the momentum built in the past year.
Fianna Fáil’s Colm Kelleher made the comments in his maiden speech as Lord Mayor after he was officially elected during a unique Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Cork City Council this evening.
The Ballincollig-based councillor was proposed by his party colleague Mary Rose Desmond for the position and seconded by Fine Gael councillor Derry Canty.
Mr Kelleher was elected 21 votes to seven over the other nominee, Independent councillor Paudie Dineen, who was nominated by Independent councillor Thomas Moloney and seconded by Independent councillor Mick Finn.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s AGM took place in the sports hall of Coláiste Choilm in Ballincollig rather than in the traditional setting of the Council Chamber, with those present respecting social distancing.
City Hall’s concert hall, although used for last year’s AGM, was unavailable this year due to its current use as a Covid-19 vaccination centre.
The AGM was also live-streamed.
“In the year ahead, let us inject the kind of urgency and determination we showed during the pandemic into our work such as the speed the council exhibited rolling out cycle lanes and pedestrianisation and improving our outdoor facilities.
“We need to be sure we do not lose that momentum in getting the job done post-Covid,” Mr Kelleher said in his mayoral speech.
He also said the delivery of further housing for Cork city will be a key priority during his term.
“We here in Cork City Council can be very proud of the fact that we are leading the way nationally as a local authority in the delivery of both social and affordable housing and this is no small part down to forward-thinking of our executive and elected members. Let us continue this vital work.”
Mr Kelleher, who became actively involved in local politics at a party level within Fianna Fáil in 2015, was elected to Cork City Council in 2019.
Aside from his role as a city councillor and now Cork’s Lord Mayor, Mr Kelleher is also the co-owner of a successful business, Kelleher Tyres.
At the AGM tonight tributes were paid to former Lord Mayor, Joe Kavanagh for his leadership over the past year.
His party colleague councillor Des Cahill said Cork was “extremely lucky” to have Mr Kavanagh as Lord Mayor during Covid.
Fianna Fáil councillor John Sheehan commended Mr Kavanagh for “rising to the challenge” during a difficult year.
Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy said Mr Kavanagh “promoted” and “inspired” community life in the role and paved the way for future Lords Mayor to have a “wider digital outreach”.
In his final address as Lord Mayor councillor Joe Kavanagh said it was “humbling and an honour” to wear the mayoral chains.
He lauded the people of Cork for the resilience shown during Covid and wished the incoming Lord Mayor the best of luck for his term.
Councillor Mary Rose Desmond was elected as Deputy Lord Mayor at the AGM tonight.
She takes over from Fine Gael councillor Shane O'Callaghan.