A new Mayor will serve the Athlone-Moate Municipal District following the election of Cllr Liam McDaniel to the pivotal position on Monday afternoon.
The Fianna Fáil Councillor was elected unopposed as the first citizen of the reconfigured electoral district and replaces party political colleague, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, following the conclusion of his year long term of office.
Cllr McDaniel was elected to serve in the Athlone-Moate Municipal District in 2019 having previous public representative experience in the Mullingar electoral area.
Proposed for the premier position by Cllr Vinny McCormack who described his colleague as an “immensely popular and hardworking” public representative, the Kilbeggan based local politician received further support from Cllr Louise Heavin and was duly elected.
Upon assuming the chain of office, the newly elected Mayor afforded his thoughts as he reflected upon his time as a public representative and embraced the first citizen challenge to come.
“I am deeply honoured and privileged to be elected as Mayor of Athlone-Moate Municipal District. Its a proud day on a personal level and I would like to express deep gratitude to my wife Anne and daughter, Nicola, for their continuous support,” Cllr McDaniel stated.
The Mayor emotionally noted the advice of his late mother (who passed away in May ) when referencing his decision to enter local politics.
“My late mother offered me the most important advice prior to my political days commencing when she informed me that I would know very soon if I was not equipped to this job - to date, it has been an honour to serve this District and upon reflection I am glad I listened to her wise words,” Cllr McDaniel added.
Looking towards his forthcoming year as Mayor, Cllr McDaniel pledged to address the repeat issues which dominate within the Municipal District.
“I want to thank outgoing Mayor, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, for his year long endeavour as first citizen addressing such challenges as illegal dumping, housing and anti-social behaviour. Such issues are not solely urban focussed and we, as a Chamber, must strive to keep such matters high on our agenda as we aim to provide the best possible service to all who reside within this vast District,” Cllr McDaniel asserted.
Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, who will serve the position as Deputy Mayor this coming term, reflected upon his year as first citizen prior to presenting the chain of office to his political colleague.
“A challenging year, I would initially like to express my sympathies to those who were impacted by Covid-19.
“Despite there being few events to attend, my year as Mayor was exceptionally busy with ongoing representations from the public. A Councillor’s role is without doubt full time in nature where availability is often expected 24/7 365 days a year.
“I used the past year as an opportunity to remotely link in with residents associations and community groups who are conducting great work and deserve all the support we can give them,” Cllr O’Rourke said.
Reflecting further on his term as Mayor, Cllr O’Rourke noted the three issues on which he received most public representations - illegal dumping, housing and anti-social behaviour.
“We are making progress with housing issues and can see a pipeline of delivery, both private and social. Houses are being constructed, affordable schemes are on the way and the government are making good progress.
“Anti-social behaviour is a problem in many District locations. We are far too lenient as a society, the punishment rarely matches the crime.
“As a council, we are too lenient with tenants, particularly those who repeatedly step out of line and we should have serious sanctions in place for repeat offenders.
“There has been an explosion of interest by the general public with regard to the issue of dumping. Daily, I receive approximately 20 calls and messages about dumping.
“There is zero tolerance for dumping. We are sick of the careless one percent of the population who illegally dump personal household waste in public areas. In March of this year, frustrated and angry, I personally delivered a dumped fridge to the door of a local individual who had brazenly flouted the dumping rules.
“I wanted to issue a clear message that dumping will not be tolerated and the support which followed assured me that my actions were recognised locally, nationally and internationally.
“Prior to this incident, I launched my Report Illegal Dumping campaign, targeting relevant black spots. It has been a particular success with the local community embracing this campaign as they strive to ensure that illegal dumping will not be tolerated,” Cllr O’Rourke continued.
Concluding, Cllr O’Rourke, expressed his gratitude for the support afforded to him by his fellow public representatives and local authority executive during his term as Mayor.
“We work exceptionally hard to improve the lives of those living within Athlone-Moate Municipal District. Without the support of our families we would be unable to focus on the betterment of our community and they must be afforded due mention.
“I believe that we will emerge from this pandemic with a greater appreciation and awareness of family, friends and colleagues - a great outcome from what has been a very difficult period of time for all within our Municipal District,” Cllr O’Rourke concluded.