IT was a case of girl power at last week’s monthly meeting of Portlaoise Town Council, with the election of two women councillors to the top roles in local government.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald is now the new Mayor of Portlaoise, while Cllr Kathleen O’Brien has been elected Vice Mayor. Both nominations were uncontested.
Nominating Cllr Fitzgerald for the top spot, Cllr Jerry Lodge said she had made a very positive contribution since joining the town council in 1994 and she is involved in numerous organisations locally. Cllr Fitzgerald’s nomination was seconded by Cllr O’Brien, who described her colleague as a great worker.
Accepting the mayoral chain, Cllr Fitzgerald said it was a privilege and an honour.
“I want to say to all the people of Portlaoise that we’ll work as hard as we can to promote Portlaoise and do everything we can for it, I want to thank all the voluntary communities in town, they’re one of the most important things we should acknowledge. I will work extremely hard for the future,” she said.
Cllr O’Brien’s nomination as vice mayor was put forward by Cllr Willie Aird, who described the election of his female colleagues as “a red letter day”.
“When I first became a member of the council in 1979, there were no females there that day, either on the staff or among the nine members. This is a very historical day,” he said, pointing out that besides the new mayor, the new town clerk is also a woman, Ms Susan Rooney.
“I never thought I’d see the day,” Cllr Aird remarked. “It’s great to see it.”
Seconding Cllr O’Brien’s nomination, outgoing Mayor Cllr Matthew Keegan described her as one of the most approachable people in town.
“The town is now being run by women,” he said, adding with a smile: “No comment.”
Cllr Rotimi Adebari remarked that the forthcoming reform of local government is something all the councillors have to worry about, but he suggested using “women power” to call the shots and try to retain the town council.
Accepting the position, Cllr O’Brien said it was a great day for Portlaoise.
“Women are on top - we’ll make the most of it for the year,” she said.