Former Fine Gael councillor puts name forward for Whelan seat

Former councillor John Dolan, a farmer from Ballinahown, is the only confirmed candidate to date to replace Cllr Joe Whelan, who this week (July 30 ) became the second councillor this year to resign from Westmeath County Council due to professional pressures.

Cllr Alan Shaw is also suggested replacement for Mr Whelan.

Cllr Shaw, who presently sits on Athlone Town Council, told the Advertiser he would make his mind up about whether he’d run or not “within a week or 10 days” after consulting with his family.

Former Athlone town councillor, Mick O’Connell said he would not be puting his name forward.

“It’s hard work and it’s thankless, and you have to be either motivated or mad,” said the straight-talking Corkman.

John Dolan has already served a year and a half as a county councillor after he was initially co-opted onto the council in 2007 to take over Nicky McFadden’s seat on the demise of the double mandate and her elevation to the Senate.

He then lost it to her sister Gabrielle on his first occasion before the electorate in June 2009.

Mr Dolan is presently chairman of South Westmeath Fine Gael, which covers the five branches of Athlone, Moate, Castledaly, Mount Temple, and Glasson.

A new councillor will be co-opted onto the council on either September 14 or 21 by the approximately 300 Fine Gael members throughout these five branches

Joe Whelan is a senior manager with the HSE, and has found his workload increase to a level incompatable with mandated public service due to the recruitment moratorium.

“It’s a very busy schedule with people leaving and not being replaced. I’ve no longer the flexibility during the day,” he explained.

“When I do a job I want to give it 110 per cent, or at least, 100 per cent, and it would be a lie to say I could give it my full commitment,” he said.

Mr Whelan is a community services manager, based in St Vincent’s campus in Athlone, but for the last two years he has also served as manager for the children’s residential services in the region.

Joe Whelan has served as a county councillor for nearly 13 years in two periods, initally being co-opted himself after the death of Cllr Pauline Coghlan from Moate in 1995.

Earlier this year, Cllr Niamh Keirnan from Rathowen, co-opted by Fianna Fáil in place of Robert Troy after his promotion to the Dáil in May 2011, bowed out due to the demands on her childcare business.

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