Paschal Fitzmaurice elected Cathaoirleach of Council

Cllr Paschal Fitzmaurice (centre) was elected as the new Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council during their AGM last Friday. He is pictured here with Shane Tiernan, CEO of Roscommon County Council (left) and the outgoing Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council Cllr John Keogh (right). Pic: Gerard O’Loughlin

At the AGM of Roscommon County Council held last Friday (21st of June), the Cathaoirleach’s chain was ceremoniously handed over by outgoing Cathaoirleach, Cllr John Keogh (FF). His successor is Cllr Paschal Fitzmaurice.

At this, the first meeting of the new council term, six newly-elected councillors and 12 re-elected councillors gathered in the chamber.

Five of the new councillors were entering the chamber for the first time, while Fine Gael’s Domnick Connolly made a return after losing his seat as an independent candidate in 2019.

New Cathaoirleach

Councillor Paschal Fitzmaurice (Fianna Fáil, Roscommon MD) expressed his “honour” at being formally elected as the new Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council. During the first meeting of the new council, the Castlerea-based councillor was elected to serve as Cathaoirleach for the first year of the new five-year council term.

Cllr Fitzmaurice was proposed for the role by party colleague Cllr Marty McDermott while Fine Gael’s newest councillor, Cllr Gareth Scahill, another Castelrea-based public representative, seconded the nomination.

Independent councillors Tony Ward and Tony Waldron proposed and seconded Councillor Nigel Dineen of Independent Ireland. However, Cllr Fitzmaurice was elected by a vote of twelve to four. Independent councillors Valerie Byrne and Micheál Frain abstained from the vote.

Leadership approach 

Upon assuming the role, Cllr Fitzmaurice, who previously served as Cathaoirleach in 2019, assured fellow members he would be fair to “each and every one” of them during his term. The poll-topping politician congratulated those who retained their council seats and welcomed the six new councillors.

Cllr Fitzmaurice paid tribute to Chief Executive Shane Tiernan, council management, and staff, for their support, among others. Thanking his family for their support, Cllr Fitzmaurice specifically mentioned his wife Ann and their two children, Sean and Ella, acknowledging that without Ann’s support, he “would not be able to serve as a councillor”.

Leas-Cathaoirleach

Newly-elected Fianna Fáil councillor Larry Brennan was elected as the council Leas-Cathaoirleach, also winning in a twelve to four vote, with abstentions again from councillors Byrne and Frain.

Cllr Brennan was proposed by party colleague and fellow first-term councillor, Cllr Sean Moylan (Boyle LEA), and was seconded by Fine Gael councillor John Naughten (Athlone LEA). Cllr Dineen had proposed Sinn Féin councillor Leah Cull for the position, with Cllr Ward as her seconder.

Cllr Brennan expressed his pride in having been elected as Leas-Cathaoirleach and said he looked forward to working with the Chief Executive, council management, staff, and fellow members.

Controlling coalition 

The controlling group of the council has been formed by all Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors, and three independent councillors, namely: Cllr Emer Kelly (Athlone LEA), Cllr Laurence Fallon (Athlone LEA), and Cllr Tom Crosby (Boyle LEA). This coalition is expected to play a crucial role in shaping the policies and decisions of the council over the coming term.

This is the second consecutive term in which the controlling coalition of Roscommon County Council is led by Fianna Fáil with Fine Gael and independent councillors supporting them in the pact. This is despite nine of eighteen councillors elected in 2019 being independents.