End of an era for four retiring county councillors

Four councillors yesterday officially retired from Laois County Council.

Four councillors yesterday officially retired from Laois County Council.

Cllrs James Deegan, Marty Phelan, John Bonham and Paul Mitchell are not running in the upcoming elections, and marked their official retirement from Laois County Council at the last monthly meeting ahead of the local elections.

Between them, the councilors have sat in the county council for nearly 70 years, with Cllr Marty Phelan elected in 1991, Cllr James Deegan elected in 1993, Cllr John Bonham elected in 1999 and Cllr Paul Mitchell elected in 2004.

They were each presented with a Citizen watch to mark their departure. Speaking in the chamber for the last time, all four paid tribute to their colleagues and council staff.

“I am highly appreciative, it has been great to be able to spend 23 years working here without falling out with anyone. I wish the incoming councillors the best of luck, this is as good a county council as anywhere in the country,” said Cllr Phelan.

“The big highlight for me was my year as Cathaoirleach in 2010/2011. I want to thank my family and my wife, all the council members, officials and fellow councillors. I attended over 300 council meetings and missed one meeting in that time,” said Cllr Deegan.

Cllr John Bonham paid tribute to late cllrs, as well as recognising County Manager Peter Carey. “I enjoyed the 15 years here in a big way. I have found nothing only the finest and best of people in this local authority”.

Cllr Paul Mitchell said that it was a tremendous 10 years, and thanked all those who elected him. “I could not thank the staff here highly enough. Thanks to all the councillors, they were a pleasure to work with.”

Tributes were made to the retiring councillors by their colleagues, as well as council officials. Cathaoirleach Cllr Mary Sweeney wished them all good health in their retirements.