New Laois county councillor Pauline Madigan
A new councillor joined Laois County Council in July, co-opted to fill the seat of the late Cllr Jerry Lodge, and taking on many of his board memberships.
Pauline Madigan from Portlaoise was chosen by Fianna Fáil HQ for the seat from eight local candidates.
She will however have to go to the public in local elections in eight months to win enough votes to retain it.
The Carlow IT lecturer was warmly welcomed to the chambers by the other 18 councillors, with a crowd of supporters in the gallery including her husband Gerry Flanagan, daughter Meghan, her mother and her mother-in-law.
Portlaoise FF Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald formally nominated her to fill the seat, empty since Cllr Lodge’s untimely death in April. She was seconded by Cllr John Joe Fennelly.
The new councillor admitted she had “very big shoes to fill”.
“History says we stand on the shoulders of great men and women and one of those was Jerry. His wife and two sons and colleagues are in my thoughts,” Cllr Madigan said.
“I’m from Limerick but I love Laois, I think this town and county will enjoy enormous success with the population growth, and I intend to play my part.
“I appreciate that having the tenacity of going for this without a political background has been controversial, although Fianna Fáil was a stronghold in my family.
“I will never take this seat for granted, I will work hard and hit the ground running to ensure the people of Laois vote for me in the local elections, and work hard for local people,” she said.
The Chief Executive Officer John Mulholland welcomed her.
“This is a very exciting time for this county in terms of what is happening, and your words are appreciated, you are very welcome on board,” he said.
The councillors all spoke to welcome Cllr Madigan, following which she was nominated to fill Cllr Lodge’s seats on ten committees and boards.
They include the Local Community Development Committee, the Strategic Policy committee for Transportation, Environment & Emergency Services, Laois Offaly Education & Training board, Laois Arts Theatre Company Ltd, Portlaoise Leisure Centre, Portlaoise Enterprise Centre, Audit Committee, the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee, Laois Third Level Initiative and the Placenames Committee.
Cllr Lodge’s vacant seat on the Irish Public Bodies, was filled by Cllr John Joe Fennelly, nominated by Cllr Seamus McDonald.