The new Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council, Councillor Michael McLaughlin, has three main priorities for his year in the chair; the first being the prospect of a legal challenge against the abolition of the town council.
Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser after his election at the AGM last week, Cllr McLaughlin said that the advice of senior counsel is to be sought in the next few weeks in relation to the abolition of town councils in 2014. The Fine Gael councillor said that a European Charter which Ireland signed up to basically says that local representatives need to be closer to the people, which “flies in the face” of what is going to happen.
Cllr McLaughlin’s second aim is to reestablish Westport as a market town. “Market events such as Sproi na Nollag have been a great success and the country markets have 25 people on a waiting list who can not be accommodated in the venue at the moment.” Cllr McLaughlin said that the benefit of having a market in the middle of the town meant that shoppers would stay in the centre of town, and would also be a way of creating employment in the town. An open air market, similar to the market in Temple Bar, is what the councillor envisages, which due to our temperamental climate could be covered over on rainy days.
An issue which the councillor would like highlighted is that of fluoride in our water supply. The councillor wants the issue raised in the chamber as to why Ireland continues to place fluoride, which is a “toxin”, in water, and would like to see it removed from local water supplies.
Cllr McLaughlin will help with the implementation of Smarter Travel in the town, a project of which the councillor has been very supportive, and also with making Westport the Adventure Capital of Ireland.
The new Leas Cathaoirleach of the town council is Fine Gael councillor Myles Staunton. Labour councillor Keith Martin had wanted the position, however in a statement released after the AGM he said that he was “disappointed but not bitter” following his defeat. Cllr Martin said: “I had hoped that my colleagues in Fine Gael would have seen their way towards supporting my nomination, but alas party politics was placed ahead of any sense of fair play or recognition of my role.”