Political pastures new await Fianna Fáil Councillor Vinny McCormack following his election as Mayor of Athlone-Moate Municipal District.
Cllr McCormack, first elected as a public representative in May 2019, will serve the pivotal role for a one year term and succeeds Cllr Liam McDaniels as District Mayor.
In his election address, Cllr McCormack, expressed his honour at being elected Mayor and noted his positive intentions for the year to come, his attendance at community events being an integral part of his role as Mayor.
“I look forward to attending as many community events as possible and highlighting the huge efforts which continue to be made by voluntary groups right across our District. I am sure we can all agree that the work carried out by voluntary groups over the past two years has been a real glimmer of hope throughout a dark period. There is a great opportunity to harness that voluntary spirit and assist our communities within our District.
“I believe the big challenge for us as a District is to ensure that our communities have a clear and cohesive plan in terms of how they want to develop. This will lead to targeted applications through the appropriate avenues and put us to the forefront in securing relevant funding. I believe we should be engaging heavily with communities and I will be asking the communities section to contact all relevant bodies to assist and guide groups in preparing development plans,” Cllr McCormack asserted.
The Mayor stressed the urgency for all local authority homes to be suitably equipped from a retrofit perspective with energy efficiency now a vital component of residential properties.
“Our housing department must drastically increase the rate at which local authority homes are brought up to date in terms of energy efficiency. The national retrofit scheme is a great opportunity for private homeowners to drastically improve the BER rating of their homes.
“We have traditionally been reliant on turf cutting to provide home heating. I see no realistic way that this can change within the next 10 years. There must be no threat from Government to the availability of turf to private homeowners until viable alternatives are firmly in place. It will take a number of years before every household can have the opportunity to engage with a retrofit scheme and have works carried out. Until we are in such a place let there be a conclusion to talk of relevant turf cutting rights,” Cllr McCormack commented.
Cllr McCormack highlighted a number of development projects within the District which he hopes to see progress or come to fruition during his term as Mayor.
“There are a number of important issues which I have been continuously working on and I will be looking to such developments advanced during my term as Mayor.
“The greenway in Moate is in need of public lighting and I wish to see this District identify the correct funding stream to carry out this work in due course and provide this infrastructure for the town. There is an urgent necessity to provide a footpath on the Ballymore Road from Moate servicing the Sliabh Rua and Toorfelim housing estates. I believe this is essential in terms of safety for residents and a project which must be prioritised.
“We will see the advancement of various regeneration projects in Athlone town which will have a hugely positive effect. The pedestrianisation of Sean Costello Street will add significantly to the previous works on Church Street and the development of the O’Neills pub site will be a major boost.
“Other regeneration developments including the Loughaniskin plan and the tourism quarter project are advancing through consultation pages. Both of these projects will certainly add to our town’s attractiveness for business and also to Athlone’s status as a tourism hub.
“We hope to see the completion of the greenway and pedestrian bridge over the River Shannon. This is a hugely important link in our town and opens up many options for safer cycling around Athlone and beyond.
“The ‘Town Centre First’ plan for Moate is a hugely exciting opportunity for the town to shape its long term future. The regeneration team are working to bring forward public and stakeholder consultations and I am readily available to assist in any way possible to advance this exciting project.
The provision of social housing must be ramped up further, through the Council and also through the approved housing bodies.
“We must engage with developers and prospective applicants on the provision of affordable housing urgently. I am aware that we have identified a number of development opportunities and we must push ahead with each of them without delay. The need for affordable housing will only continue to grow and we must do all we can to help those hardworking families who are forced to pay growing rents with little opportunity get on the property ladder,” Cllr McCormack remarked.
Lauding the cohesive positivity of his fellow elected representatives, Cllr McCormack stated that he would work faithfully with his colleagues and the council executive to serve the District’s citizens and advance the many exciting opportunities which await in the year to come.