Fianna Fáil Swinford-based councillor Michael Smyth is the new Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council. Cathaoirleach Smyth takes over the position from Independent Cllr Richard Finn, who held the position for the past 12 months.
It was a double celebration for Fianna Fáil in east Mayo, with Cllr John Caulfield elected as the Leas Cathaoirleach for the coming year. Cllr Smyth and Cllr Caulfield beat Fine Gael's Cllr Donna Sheridan for the positions, after she was proposed for both roles by her party.
Both Smyth and Caulfield won their votes 16-13 thanks to a voting pact that was agreed by Fianna Fáil and a number of independent councillors following the 2019 Local Elections.
Speaking after his election, the new Cathaoirleach said it was a huge privilege for him to take on the position and thanked his family and late mentor, Brendan McNulty, for their belief and guidance. He also referred back to when he first contested the local elections in 2009 and narrowly missed out on a seat and what he had learned from that defeat to come back and win a seat the next time around.
He said that he would do all he could do for the people of Mayo and made reference to some of what he called "misinformation" and "abuse campaigns" – that particularly female colleagues had suffered from people online.
In his remarks, outgoing Cathaoirleach Cllr Finn thanked his colleagues and council staff for their assistance over 'a very different year as Cathaoirleach than anyone else had experienced' and joked that the council will not have to worry too much about his expenses, as he must be the only one in the role 'to have never left the county or used their passport'.