ON June 12 last, I was privileged to be elected Lord Mayor of Cork for 2020 until June, 2021.
This is a huge honour for me and my family and I am determined to deliver as best I can for the duration of my tenure as First Citizen.
The Lady Mayoress, Stephanie, who is from Iona Park in Mayfield, has really grown into the role and is a huge influence in everything we do. She certainly adds a touch of glamour to the many photo-calls we have to do, but her real strength would certainly be the steadying influence that she would have in my decision- making throughout the year.
As Lord Mayor, my role is completely different than that of previous Lord Mayors because of the Covid restrictions that have been imposed on us.
The last six months we have had to completely re-invent the role in terms of what we could do safely and at the same time deliver effectively and positively for the city and our local community.
Under normal circumstances, I would have attended many dinners and lunches for a wide variety of organisations across the city. Unfortunately, these had to be cancelled and what disappoints me most about this is that these events would generally have raised valuable funding for many charitable organisations. This has left a huge void in the coffers of the charity organisations but I hope we can make up for this shortfall in the second half of our year between now and June, 2021. Fingers crossed.
Popular events such as the Lady Mayoress’s coffee morning usually raise significant funding for Marymount each September but had to be cancelled this year. We hope to hold this event in early 2021, Government restrictions permitting of course.
I hope we can also hold a Lord Mayor’s Ball at some point, which also raises valuable funds for charity. The Lord Mayor’s Christmas Concert also fell victim to Covid restrictions and this was a fantastic fund raiser for so many worthy Charities.
On a positive note, I was determined to drive on as best we could and deliver on a number of key initiatives. First, this is a year of commemoration as we remember the historical events of 1920. We commemorated events such as the deaths of former Lord Mayors Tomas McCurtain and Terence McSwiney, the Dillons Cross Ambush and many other events that shaped the history of our city 100 years ago. There have been quite a number of events we undertook and funded as part of the commemoration and this programme will continue in 2021 and beyond.
Secondly, we have done a lot of promotional work supporting local and the city centre business community who have been hit hard by the restrictions and various lockdowns.
We continue with this work and of course I am asking that we do everything we can as a local community to support our local businesses and the city centre businesses as best we can.
If you are buying online, please buy from an Irish company and if possible a Cork- based company. Our local business community needs our support now more than ever!!
Thirdly, our environment and particularly litter is a real bug bearer of mine. In May, 2017, I set up Mayfield St Luke’s Tidy Towns Group and this initiative has gone from strength to strength, mainly because of the fantastic volunteers. I continue to actively go out every week with our Tidy Towns Group and do litter picks, paint and plant flowers, etc.
My local community always comes First and always will!
I am currently working with officials on an anti-litter campaign called ‘Cork Against Litter’ to be launched in the coming weeks. A lot of work has been done on this so I am really looking forward to this campaign and hope it will deliver positively for many communities across our city in the coming months and beyond.
I have been doing so many events online in the past number of months but I was delighted to be able to get out and about to meet people whenever I could, observing all recommended guidelines and restrictions of course.
Some memorable events would have been the annual visit to Collins Barracks and of course to our Naval Base in Haulbowline. The many visits to many of our arts venues in the city were particularly memorable, particularly during Culture Night.
There were a lot of ‘firsts’ this year. We had the very first Cork City Council meeting held online, our first City Council AGM held without any public participation, and of course the school visits were held online for the fFirst time in their 100 year history. I addressed all 119 schools across our city from a studio and through the magnificent technological advances, it was streamed into all schools simultaneously. We hope to get the opportunity to physically visit all schools in the spring as I have promised that a tree will be planted in every school as soon as the planting season comes and of course Government guidelines permit.
I continue to work on a wide variety of local issues for constituents on a daily basis and I will continue to do so and deliver as positively as possible in these very challenging times.
Well, six months completed as Lord Mayor and six months to go and I hope I can continue to deliver as best I can for our city.
May I take this opportunity, along with The Lady Mayoress, Stephanie, to wish each and every one of you and your families a very Happy and Holy Christmas and I hope that 2021 will be a better year for everybody.
Health is Wealth so stay safe, Stay healthy and look after each other.