PALLASGREEN’S Mary Harty was elected the third female cathaoirleach and first person from her village this Thursday.
A councillor since 1999 she grew up in a Fine Gael family. She can recall her dad John telling her stories about canvassing with Paddy Donegan in the Fifties in an ass and cart and introducing speakers at rallies outside masses.
The late John and his wife Nelly, who was reared in Doon, would have been very proud to see their daughter make history.
“I don’t think anyone was ever cathaoirleach from Pallasgreen. The last councillor was David Dillon in the Seventies and Paddy Donegan in the Fifties and Sixties and neither of them were so unless someone was way, way back. It’s a nice honour,” said Cllr Harty, who was joined on the day and at the celebrations in O’Dwyer’s bar by her brother Eamon, sister Carmel and her other sister Siobhan’s children Brian, Michael and Ellen.
There will be a very short honeymoon period for Cllr Harty, who is a learning support resource teacher, following the announcement of a new single local authority.
“The biggest challenge will be the boundary commission. It will be the overriding feature of the year - the implementation committee - and making sure that all interests are heard and taken in to account.
“That balanced decisions are made and things are done in the interest of representing the people of Limerick properly but also in the interest of efficiency, accountability and transparency.
“It will be done in a very balanced and measured way to make sure that all the sides of the county and city are equally represented. Limerick city and county are very interdependent upon one another. The welfare of the city depends on the people of the county doing business and vice versa. It is incumbent on us to make sure Limerick is the winner,” said Cllr Harty.
Supporting businesses and seeing water and sewerage services to small towns and villages maintained are two of her other biggest issues.
“It is a very tough time for businesses, whether it is the retail end of it or getting credit from the banks or trying to keep their heads above water. “Basically they are besieged from all ends. I would like to see them being supported in every way by the council, said Cllr Harty.
“At the moment a support business network is being set-up which is a one stop shop once a month where people interested in developing initiatives can come in and meet the planning, water, roads people all in the one go just to speed up the process of facilitating any kind of initiative,” said Cllr Harty.
“The red tape and the amount of form filling and regulations governing all these things are so vast and so immense - that end of it alone is daunting.
“Anything the council can do to help cut through the red tape and make it more efficient and try to support people we have to do and try and make life easier for people,” said Cllr Harty, who teaches in Nicker National School.
The new leas cathaoirleach will be Cllr Damien Riedy, who replaced Deputy Patrick O’Donovan when he was elected to the Dail.