The new municipal district of Dundalk is hoping to provide a collective voice for the people of the town and north Louth.
It replaces the town council, and is a subsidiary of the new county council, but as the new chairman, Fianna Fail’s Declan Breathnach, said at the inaugural meeting, it is a body that will have teeth and will represent the interests of the people.
The new authority will have powers independent of the county council.
Cllr Breathnach was elected cathaoirleach, or chair, when he defeated Sinn Fein’s Edel Corrigan. She was also proposed for the vice chair but was defeated by Cllr Mark Dearey.
The party has the largest number of seats on the new body but, as happened with the county council, it was outvoted.
Independent councillor Maeve Yore abstained on both votes. So it was seven - five against Sinn Fein in both election.
The move by the three Fianna Fail, two Fine Gael, and two Green Party councillors to stop Sinn Fein securing one of the jobs was strongly criticised by Sinn Fein’s Cllr Tomas Sharkey who said the grand coalition was “fifty years behind Ulster unionism”, a reference to the cross-party support that exists for the election of chairman and mayoral positions on local government bodies in the North.
The monthly meetings of the new body will be held at Dundalk Town Hall on the first Tuesday of every month at 5.15pm.
The public will be encouraged to attend.
As Cllr Marianne Butler said: “People should be happy to walk in and attend.”
And Cllr Yore said every effort should be made to encourage young people to get involved in politics.
Cllr Corrigan said Comhairle na nOg, the secondary school students elected to the Junior County Council, should be invited to make presentations to future meetings.