Gender balance raised at election of County Limerick cathaoirleach

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Cllr Ger Mitchell congratulates Cllr Eddie Ryan Picture: Don Moloney

Cllr Ger Mitchell congratulates Cllr Eddie Ryan Picture: Don Moloney

ELECTIONS of the cathaoirleach of Kilmallock-Cappamore municipal district have always been a fait accompli.

The Fianna Fail and Fine Gael pact means they have rotated it over the last five years. At last Thursday’s meeting, tributes were paid to outgoing cathaoirleach, Gerald Mitchell and Cllr Bill O’Donnell’s proud family history in representing the people of County Limerick.

Cllr Mike Donegan then proposed Cllr Eddie Ryan to be the new cathaoirleach. Cllr Lisa Marie Sheehy said history has been spoken about in relation to Cllrs Mitchell and O’Donnell.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to make history and have the first female representative of this district,” said Cllr Sheehy, who proposed fellow independent councillor, Brigid Teefy.

 “Fifty per cent of our district haven’t even been represented in the five years as cathaoirleach while the same councillor is going to be elected three times [Eddie Ryan]. This isn’t a personal vendetta,” stressed Cllr Sheehy.

“Brigid topped the poll, then Eddie and I was next. We should be represented,” said Cllr Sheehy.

Cllr Donegan said an agreement was made between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in 2014. “This is party politics. This is what politics are all about. It is nothing to do with females,” said Cllr Donegan.

Cllr Teefy said the issue of gender balance in local government has been raised. “It would be nice to see a female as cathaoirleach,” said Cllr Teefy.

Cllr Sheehy said she is “fully aware” it is party politics.

“It is the optics of it. It is disheartening to see the same person as cathaoirleach three out of the five years,” she said. After that Cllr Ryan was elected as cathaoirleach of the Cappamore-Kilmallock district.

Cllr Ryan thanked fellow members and said it would be great to see it rotated around. “Fianna Fail and Fine Gael made the deal. We have 25 councillors. I didn’t look for it, I fell into this job. I deem it an honour and will do my best. I’m looking forward to the year ahead and working with councillors and management,” said Cllr Ryan.

Cllr Teefy congratulated Cllr Ryan and is looking forward to working with him.  Cllr Sheehy seconded that and said Cllr Ryan showed professionalism and grace during his previous terms in the role.

“My point about Brigid was not personal,” said Cllr Sheehy. “I totally accept that,” said Cllr Ryan.  Cllrs Mitchell, O’Donnell, Donegan and Noel Gleeson all wished him well.  Cllr Gleeson said it is the one meeting he hates in the year.

“You have to support someone. In the old Castleconnell electoral area, Mary Jackman and the late Mary Harty were elected chairpersons. I just hate this  meeting. Politics is politics,” said Cllr Gleeson. O n behalf of the council, Kieran Lehane, Sean Coughlan and Barry Murphy wished Cllr Ryan well.