For the second time in his political career John Dolan from Castledaly will sit on Westmeath County Council without being directly elected, after the 43-year-old farmer was co-opted onto the council by Fine Gael on Friday night (September 21 ).
He takes the place of Joe Whelan from Moate who stepped down in July due to work pressures, and Cllr Dolan was formally accepted in chamber at the council’s monthly meeting on Monday evening.
Two hundred and twenty one of the 340 members (65 per cent ) from the five branches of South Westmeath Fine Gael took part in the selection meeting in the Sheraton hotel, and Cllr Dolan was elected on the first count with 120 votes.
“It’s not often I’m stuck for words,” said Cllr Dolan when first asked to speak as a re-minted councillor.
“But first I want to thank my loyal, loyal supporters. You came out and supported me, and I won’t let you down. I know what it’s like to be defeated, and it’s not a nice feeling,” he said, referring to his defeat in the local elections in 2009.
Dolan and Mick O’Connell had both been co-opted onto the county and town councils in 2008 after the imposition of the dual mandate bar to replace Nicky McFadden on each body after her elevation to the Seanad.
However, both lost their seats in the ‘09 elections as the McFadden vote in the area returned Gabrielle to both seats.
“Everybody knows I’m a worker. I’ve been nearly 30 years a member of Fine Gael, and the one thing I’ll never do is let the party down,” he continued.
“It’s great to see the numbers here. It humbles me, and I salute every one of you,” he added.
“With the decision made, now is the time for unity. I can’t do all this on my own, and need people to help me. We’re in government now, and this time it’s tougher. Councillors will have to justify it in 2014,” said Cllr Dolan, recognising the uphill struggle facing Government candidates at the next mid-term locals.
Minister Fergus O’Dowd was the guest chairman for the night.
Cllr Dolan contested the convention with Lorcan Allen from Moate, a recent graduate in political science who works part-time in that Moate hotbed of Fine Gael-dom, Vincent Coghlan’s bar; and Michael Dolan from Fardrum, a tax accountant with his own practice based in Castledaly.
Both of the other candidates were highly magnanimous in defeat.