Fine Gael councillor, John Dolan, was elected Mayor of Athlone at Tuesday’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District.
Cllr Dolan replaces outgoing mayor and party colleague Tom Farrell as Athlone’s first citizen for the coming year.
He was proposed for the position by Fianna Fáil’s Frankie Keena, who referred to Dolan as a hard-working and committed local representative and said it would “be fitting” to see him become mayor. Cllr Keena’s nomination was seconded by Fianna Fáil’s Aengus O’Rourke and with that Dolan was elected.
The new mayor thanked his fellow councillors for putting their faith in him. He commended Cllr Tom Farrell for the role he had played while in office, referring to him as “a tough act to follow”.
Cllr Dolan reflected on how it was the encouragement of neighbours that initially led him to enter the political arena. In 2007, he replaced the late Nicky McFadden in the chamber. Having narrowly lost out on a seat in 2009, he was co-opted to the council in 2011 to replace Joe Whelan, later in 2015 securing his seat “in his own right”, as he put it.
Cllr Dolan referred to 2016 as being a “big year” for Athlone with a number of major projects needing progressing. He noted the rejuvenation of Church Street as being high on his priority list. He listed the extension of the Greenway and tourism in general as key areas of interest.
Cllr Dolan said that in his position as mayor he views himself as the “captain of Team Athlone”. He said he intends to be inclusive and welcoming of opinions from all his fellow councillors.
In closing, Cllr Dolan thanked his family. He joked that they might not see as much of him during the next 12 months, but said he greatly appreciated all they do for him. He also paid thanks to a couple of special guests in attendance, including Mr Jimmy Burns, his father’s best friend and “an honoury member of the Dolan family”, and his aunt Eileen Parker.
Cllr O’Rourke congratulated the new mayor on his appointment. He told of how he and Cllr Dolan had attended the same school together, and joked that the Fine Gael man had a full head of hair and rarely opened his mouth back then. He assured Cllr Dolan that he would never be found wanting in his support for him.
Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hogan said the new mayor has “huge respect” among his fellow councillors and the general public and wished him all the best going forward.
Outgoing mayor Tom Farrell said his party colleague is a “team player” and that he has no doubt he will make a “great captain”, while Independent councillor Michael O’Brien said he has no doubt Cllr Dolan will “fill the shoes” of mayor very well.
A beaming Cllr Dolan accepted the chain with pride before settling into his first meeting in the top chair of the chamber.