Conor Keelan was elected as new Dundalk Municipal District Cathaoirleach on Tuesday
Fianna Fáil councillor Conor Keelan is the new Cathaoirleach of the Dundalk Municipal District, replacing John McGahon.
The Dundalk/Carlingford councillor was nominated for the position by his party colleague Emma Coffey. He defeated the Sinn Féin nomination Anne Campbell by eight votes to four.
Fine Gael's Maria Doyle was named the new Leas Cathaoirleach. She was nominated by John McGahon and beat Edel Corrigan by seven votes to five.
Speaking upon taking up his seat at the top table, Keelan said, "I’m honoured to be elected to this office, this evening.
"I commiserate with Anne Campbell on her loss. She would have been a very fitting chair of the Dundalk Municipal District"
He said he was cosncious the next year will see a local election and also an upcoming Boundary Commission review which may redraw constituencies and municipal district areas.
"We cannot pre-empt this review and may emerge unscathed from it, but as promised we can hope for more powers at municipal level, particularly with budgets," he said.
"This is only right. This has been our express desire and we must hold the department to this.
"I promise a more active approach that this district, centred as it is to Dundalk, gets the finance and resources we deserve consummate with our population," he continued.
Keelan also said he wanted to bring Municipal District monthly meetings out of Town Hall - although Tuesday's meeting was held in County Hall due to a special full council meeting held afterwards - and around the county.
His idea was widely supported, including by Green Party's Mark Dearey and Coffey. "The public should ensure they feel they know what the workings are," she said.
Campbell congratulated her colleague on his election as the new Cathaoirleach of the district. "I'd like to add my congratulations to you. You have an unparallelled knowledge of the workings of local government," she said.
Outgoing chair John McGahon was widely commended for his 12 month tenure at the helm of the Dundalk Municipal District.
Particular emphasis was put on how McGahon helped organise the vigil for Yosuke Sasaki in Dundalk after the Japanese national's murder at the start of the year.
Maria Doyle said, "That showed how we can all come together under your guidance and put something together that was very moving. You should be very proud of your year as Cathaoirleach."
Sinn Féin's Ruairí Ó Murchú also praised his work. "I’d like to commend you on a job well done. It was a fitting tribute to what was a tragic circumstance.
"There was a lot of cross party co-operation, and I’m not sure it does either of us any favours in the outside world!," he added, jokingly.
Dearey said McGahon represented the town "with great distinction."