Cllr Colm Kelleher, Lord Mayor of Cork, Source: Cork City Council

New Lord Mayor of Cork elected in school sports hall

New Lord Mayor of Cork elected in school sports hall

Colm Kelleher has become the youngest chairman of Cork City Council since 1992

Without exaggeration, the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Cork City Council on Friday evening will be remembered as historic, and for two reasons at that. Firstly, the council elected its youngest chairman in nearly three decades, and secondly, the annual session was the first to take place outside of City Hall premises, ever.

Big win

Fianna Fáil councillor Colm Kelleher, 35, won the vote with 21 to 7, leaving far behind his only rival - independent councillor Paudie Dineen. Kelleher’s victory can be largely attributed to the pact between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Greens, but some independents also voted for him. Cllr Mary Rose Desmond, also member of Fianna Fáil, was elected deputy Lord Mayor.

The Council Chamber is the traditional setting of AGMs, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s session was held in the sports hall of Coláiste Choilm school in Ballincollig, satellite town of Cork, under social distancing protocol. City Hall’s Concert Hall, the site of last year’s AGM, is currently used as a Covid-19 vaccination centre.

New mayor’s priorities

Kelleher claims that he is the city’s youngest Lord Mayor since Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin’s tenure in 1992-1993. In his mayoral speech, he paid tribute to outgoing mayor, Fine Gael councillor Joe Kavanagh, for his work during a year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Outlining his priorities for the year, the new Lord Mayor highlighted the task of reviving the economy of Ireland’s second largest city as people learn to live with Covid-19. He pledged to harness this urgency to adapt in finding solutions to build a better city.

“In the year ahead, let us inject the kind of urgency and determination we showed during the pandemic into our work such as the speed the council exhibited rolling out cycle lanes and pedestrianization and improving our outdoor facilities. We need to be sure we do not lose that momentum in getting the job done post Covid,” Kelleher said, as quoted by the city website.

He also listed delivery of further housing for Cork City among his priorities, saying “We here in Cork City Council can be very proud of the fact that we are leading the way nationally as a local authority in the delivery of both social and affordable housing and this is no small part down to forward thinking of our executive and elected members. Let us continue this vital work.”

Politician and businessman

Colm Kelleher is a Ballincollig native and a former pupil of Coláiste Choilm. He became actively involved in local politics at a party level within Fianna Fáil in 2015, and was elected to Cork City Council in 2019, serving as Chairman of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee.

The new Lord Mayor complements his political ambitions with a business acumen he says he has inherited from his grandmothers. This accounts for the success of his business, Kelleher Tyres, which he runs with his brothers. Colm Kelleher has two children - Adam, 13, and Emile Rose, 7.

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