THE Lord Mayor of Cork has vowed to do everything in his power during his remaining time in office to help push for a supervised injection centre for Cork city to help save lives.
Cllr Colm Kelleher has previously expressed the view that Ireland needs to establish supervised injection centres as part of the solution to the heroin problem.
One of the key themes of his mayoralty is to increase awareness in relation to addiction and recovery and the Lord Mayor has spoken publicly on several occasions about his brother’s recovery journey from heroin addiction.
Reaching the midway point in his term as Lord Mayor of Cork, Mr Kelleher said working towards more tangible solutions to the issue of drugs remains a major priority for him.
“I’m on the record for saying that we need supervised injection centres and I know that the chief executive of Cork City Council is on the same page as me, along with a lot of elected members both of Oireachtas and Council.
“That is something that I will be pushing for hard in the new year,” he told The Echo.
“There is a [drugs] problem still in our city — it hasn’t gone away and anything I can do in my remaining six months in my capacity as Lord Mayor to help that along, I will be focusing on that.”
Reflecting on his time so far serving as the city’s first citizen, Mr Kelleher said he has greatly enjoyed the various aspects of the role.
“I knew that it [the role of Lord Mayor] would involve a lot of photocalls and ribbon-cutting ceremonies and that is very enjoyable getting out and meeting people.
“Being the political anorak I am, I also really enjoy the chairing of committees, in particular, the chairing of Council.
“Obviously I’m apolitical in my role as Lord Mayor. I find it a very different experience in comparison to being a councillor on the floor because being a councillor on the floor you can have your political opinions and you’re down in the trenches but as Lord Mayor, you don’t pass comment, you’re there to just chair the meeting,” he said.
Mr Kelleher said it is an honour to serve as Lord Mayor.
“It means so much to the people elected to represent the people of Cork but actually when you go out into the city with the chain — the respect shown to the chain is absolutely amazing.
“I did a walkabout with the Cork Business Association recently — one young person came up and asked, ‘Is that the same chain MacCurtain and MacSwiney wore?’ You’re very proud to say yes, yes it is.”
The Lord Mayor said his Christmas message is to wish people a peaceful, happy and safe Christmas and also to be aware that it can be a difficult time of year for some.
“Some people may be able to have their loved ones come home this Christmas, while others will be celebrating Christmas over Zoom calls.
“It’s obviously a very family-orientated time of year but I would just ask people to remember that Christmas can also be a lonely time of the year for some. We have a tradition of taking care of each other here in Cork and I have no doubt that we will continue to do that.”