Athlone elects first Labour councillor in 40 years

Athlone’s new mayor says he is proud to be the first Labour Party mayor in the town in almost 40 years.

Speaking after being elected as mayor of Athlone on Monday, Cllr Jim Henson said it was an honour to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, in particular the last member of his own party to hold the office, the late John Keenan, back in 1973.

Cllr Henson was elected unopposed as mayor, having been proposed by Cllr Sheila Buckley-Byrne and seconded by Cllr Mark Cooney.

Setting out his aims for the coming year, the mayor said he intends to focus on achieving improved infrastructure for the elderly and young people of the town.

“I entered politics as a community candidate [in 2009] to encourage community development in and around Athlone. In that period there have been huge improvements in infrastructure for the elderly. These are lean times but I hope to encourage the sharing of resources and infrastructure to further benefit young and elderly people.”

Cllr Henson said he would like to see the CE (Community Employment ) scheme, which previously provided 22 people to help elderly people locally, be put back in operation in Athlone.

“There are hundreds or thousands of young people out of work, and I would like to harness volunteerism for the benefit of the elderly and disabled in Athlone,” he said.

Cllr Henson also commented that he would like to see the council offer further support to local businesses, and to have one body in the town to represent all business interests.

Councillors united to congratulate Cllr Henson on his new role. Members of his family, including his mother, were present to see him receive his mayoral chain.

Cllr Gabrielle McFadden was elected deputy mayor of Athlone.


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