New guidelines for civic receptions

The new Mullingar and Athlone mayors may have their chain of office in its safe storage box more often than they wear it around their necks.

Detailed rules will dictate exactly what events local mayors can officiate at, and even what kind of events they can host in their own areas.

The issue arose when Athlone’s county councillors called for a civic reception in Athlone to welcome those involved in the Community Games.

However, Billy Coughlan of the council’s management team explained that there are three levels of event that can be held, and local mayors may not hold or officiate at events that have a national or county relevance.

Calling for the civic reception to be held in Athlone, where the Community Games finals have been held since 2007, both Cllrs Hogan and O’Rourke pointed out the value the event brings to the entire county.

Cllr Hogan said he meant no disregard to Cllr Paddy Hill, cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, in asking for the civic function to be bestowed by Athlone’s mayor.

“I’m sure the cathaoirleach understands the traditional connection,” he said.

But Mr Coughlan had law on his side, saying that Athlone Town Council had the right to run events in its own right, but since the town councils were abolished earlier this summer, the local authority, following a recommendation from the Corporate Policy Group (CPG ), will make the decision about conferring civic honours.

There are three levels of civic reception - an address of recognition, a civic welcome, and a civic reception.

Receptions relate to those who achieve or succeed at national level, and those may only be hosted by the cathaoirleach.

The cathaoirleach will host civic receptions, national openings, and national launches in the county.

Mayors can acknowledge sporting, cultural, and similar activities in their municipal districts with the presentation of a scroll, the equivalent of a civic welcome.

And they can represent their municipal district at the official launches of locally funded events in their area.

Athlone’s Municipal District can host a civic welcome with the mayor officiating, but it appears even that decision will have to come before the council and the CPG.

“God be with the days when conferring civic honours was straightforward,” observed Cllr O’Rourke, who proposed that a civic welcome, officiated by the mayor, would go ahead for the Community Games in Athlone.


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