Rumours in Mullingar that the Labour constituency office on Bishopgate Street was going to close were quickly snuffed out this week by one of its oldest professional residents.
Joint owner Cllr Mick Dollard denied the rumour immediately, although conceded he was in negotiations with the co-owner - Willie Penrose TD - to buy it outright. However, he did not elaborate on the current status of these proceedings.
“This is the most used office in the entire constituency. It’s open Monday to Friday, and I’d spend most of my Saturdays there as well seeing 50 or 60 people. If anything, this office is going to be strengthened, we want to deliver more services,” he told the Advertiser yesterday, Thursday March 20.
He explained how the building was acquired by himself, Willie Penrose TD, and the late Jack Coleman for the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU ) in 1982, which then became SIPTU following an amalgamation in 1990.
In 2004 SIPTU moved out and sold the building to Cllr Dollard and Deputy Penrose.
It has since been used as a constituency office for one TD, six county councillors (Dollard, Denis Leonard, Detty Cornally, Johnnie Penrose, Peter Keaney, Gerry Corcoran ), and two town councillors (Gerry Sheridan, Pat Collins ).
“It’s the longest established constituency office in Westmeath, and I’ve been doing clinics here since 1982, over 30 years. It’s a landmark building, between the parish community centre and the Presentation school,” he said.
“I may become the full owner, but it will continue as constituency office for the Labour Party,” he asserted.
He pointed out the continuing strength of the party in the north of the county with the fact that of the eight candidates running in the Local Elections in the Mullingar/Kilbeggan and Mullingar/Coole districts, just one - Rachel Grimes from Collinstown - is not a sitting councillor.