Fianna Fáil Councillor Padraig Fleming from The Swan has been elected chairperson of Laois County Council.
He was warmly cheered by a packed gallery of supporters as he accepted the chain of office from the outgoing Cathaoirleach, Cllr Tom Mulhall, at the June 26 council meeting.
“I am deeply honoured and extremely privileged to be Cathaoirleach of the 85,000 people of Laois. I am deeply aware of challenges ahead, not least the provision of housing, employment, and the profound importance of retaining a full A&E service,” the new chairman said.
On housing, he said he would like to see derelict and unused houses refurbished, and more government money for housing.
"There are 33 council houses under construction in Conniberry Way in Portlaoies, please ensure that job is finished before my time is up, I'd like to cut the ribbon," he said to cheers.
A new Portlaoise library, moving Portlaoise courthouse and the promotion of tourism and seeing the Slieve Bloom Bike Trail begun, are also on his to-do list.
The CEO John Mulholland praised his "ambitious work programme for the year ahead".
"I give you my commitment to try to deliver on it," the CEO said.
There in support of Cllr Fleming were former MEP Liam Hyland, Mary Wheatley, Cllr Fleming's brother Sean Fleming TD, his wife Catherine and daughters Avril and Stephanie. His daughter Rachel is currently in Australia.
Young members of Laois Comhairle na nÓg and Ógra Fianna Fáil were also in the audience, as well as many community members.
Cllr Fleming invited them all back to the Swan Inn for a night of celebration into the early hours.
He received 13 votes out of 17 Laois county councillors present. Independent Cllr Ben Brennan was counter proposed for the role and received four votes.
Cllr Willie Aird from Portlaoise was elected as vice chairman.