There were two fresh faces in the council chamber this week, as Cllrs Liam McDaniel and Bill Collentine were co-opted to replace Paul Daly and Aidan Davitt respectively following their election to Seanad Éireann.
The two new Fianna Fáil councillors took their seats to a stream of welcome and good wishes from across the political spectrum.
Cllr McDaniel, a native of Kilbeggan who now lives in Ballinagore, was known to many councillors due to his involvement in the GAA and the local community, and was praised as a calm and fair man.
Cllr Collentine, a businessman in Mullingar and a former Mullingar town councillor, was commended for his contribution to the business community and charity work.
Speaking following his election, Cllr McDaniel said he was “honoured” and was looking forward to representing the people of his area and the county.
“I am looking forward to working with my fellow councillors. I have a lot to give and will be proud to represent the people of Westmeath,” he said.
The Kilbeggan native grew up as a neighbour of the late Cllr Tom Cowley, whose council seat Paul Daly took over in 2008. This point was not lost on Senator Daly, who commented that things had now come full circle: “It seems like I just had a loan of the seat for eight years, and the seat is now back in St Mary’s Avenue where it belongs”.
Cllr Collentine said he was “delighted, thrilled, and honoured” to be co-opted onto the council.
“I was on Mullingar Town Council from 2009-2014; I enjoyed it and got a lot of experience which will hopefully help me on the county council. I intend to work hard to represent all the people in the community for the betterment of all,” he said.
The council’s CEO Pat Gallagher assured the new recruits of both his assistance and that of his staff as they settle into their new roles.