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Tributes to 'elegant' Laois Cathaoirleach after 'difficult' year's work in pandemic

Tributes to 'elegant' Laois Cathaoirleach  after 'difficult' year's work in pandemic

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald during her year as Laois County Council Cathaoirleach

A new Cathaoirleach has been elected to Laois County Council, replacing Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald from Portlaoise who held the position in a unique time, right through the Covid pandemic.

In her final speech as Laois County Council Cathaoirleach on June 28, Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald focused on the difficult year it has been for those most affected by the pandemic in Laois.

“All our community, young and old, I thank all our hospital staff, nursing home staff for their courage dedication and kindness to all our patients over the last year in Laois. 

Our frontline staff, retail workers, binmen, and all the staff who worked in such difficult circumstances especially at the start when no one knew what was happening and they were all there meeting every one of us every day doing their job, keeping us all going.

It was an awful difficult time for anyone who lost loved ones in the past year and I offer my deepest sympathy because what we really missed was the traditional Irish funerals. Not being able to grieve properly, with family and friends and neighbours has been extremely difficult for all our citizens and everyone in the country. 

She thanked the council staff and the IT section for their extreme support over the year.

“Working in partnership, with us as elected members for our community, we can really make this a great county. I’m very proud of this county and we are increasing in population with a very bright future. 

She especially thanked Michelle McCormack, assistant to CEO John Mulholland.

“I don’t think I would have survived without Michelle, she is the best official I’ve ever worked with. No matter what party or colour, you’re the best ever and so kind and helpful to us all,” she said to spontaneous applause from councillors.  

Laois County Council CEO John Mulholland congratulated her for her year of work. 

“You were elegant and eloquent in your role. You mastered the online tools with great professionalism and succinctness. The year culminated in handing over keys to 100 houses and seeing the joy on people’s faces,” he said.

He presented her with a photo album of her official events during the year. 

Cllr Padraig Fleming noted the final three busy months as the pandemic restrictions lifted.

“The first nine months were hard but you were like a leaving cert student in the last three months cramming everything in opening housing estates. You shone out and stood up for the people of Laois,” he said.

The new Cathaoirleach Cllr Conor Bergin recalled Cllr Fitzgerald speaking on national radio when Laois was hit with a localised Covid lockdown.

“Last August a second 20km lockdown you spoke with Mary Wilson on Drivetime on behalf of the county and there was an enhanced stimulus package announced soon after,” he said.

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