CBS Wexford deputy principal John Hegarty new chairman of Wexford County Council
Cllr John Hegarty, the Gorey native who is deputy principal of Wexford CBS secondary school, is the new chairman of Wexford County Council.
The Fine Gael councillor was elected to the role yesterday (Monday) having been proposed by fellow Gorey man Cllr Anthony Donohue. Cllr Donohue's proposal was seconded by Cllr Malcolm Byrne, also from Gorey.
Cllr Donohue said that he knew Cllr Hegarty all his life saying he is very fair and balanced and would make a great chairman. Cllr Byrne said that Cllr Hegarty is very fair and 'won't play politics in the chair. He gives everyone an opportunity and looks for solutions to problems. He is very capable and efficient.'
Cllr Anthony Kelly proposed Cllr Johnny Mythen for the role which was seconded by Cllr Deirdre Wadding. Following a vote Cllr Hegarty was elected by 25 votes to eight.
Taking the chair Cllr Hegarty thanked the members for 'placing your trust in me' and outlined his plans for the year.
He said he hoped to build on the work of previous chairmen during his year.
'This is a massive honour and it's a challenge I'm looking forward to. My family background isn't in politics but I feel that we have the potential to achieve much.'
During his speech Cllr Hegarty also remembered former councillors, the late Pat Cody and Fergie Kehoe who, he said, had been integral to the development of Wexford.
He went on to say that the council is entering its fourth year of a five year term and wondered 'could we do more?' before urging everyone 'to let's make sure we do the best we can'.
'My priorities for the year are jobs for County Wexford. We have been building the infrastructure like the Hatch Lab in Gorey. We made difficult decisions over the years especially in relation to the Local Property Tax but those decisions allowed us to complete projects and I believe that they have put us ahead of other counties. Now I want to see that translated into jobs.
'I also want Wexford to become a healthy county. Healthy Ireland is identifying cities and counties around the country to become Healthy Counties and I believe this is a perfect fit for Wexford with all our walking trails, sporting facilities, people who have excelled in all disciplines of sport. It would also tie in with our work in the area of mental health and I truly believe that a healthy body is a healthy mind and I'd like Wexford to achieve a Healthy County status during my 12 months here.
'We also need to communicate with the community as well as a review of speed limits. It is a challenging list but we need to continue to think big and I hope with your support that we can move the county forward.
'I want our meetings to be progressive and if there is any grandstanding I intend to move on. We want to be positive. We have a great county and great people and we have the ability and potential to do great work.'
Cllr Barbara Anne Murphy was elected as vice chair having being proposed by Cllr Willie Kavanagh and seconded by Cllr Kathleen Codd Nolan.
Cllrs Hegarty and Murphy were congratulated on their new roles with Cllr Deirdre Wadding saying it was great to see a woman stepping into one of the key roles in the county.
Cllr Davy Hynes said the abuse of alcohol needed to be addressed saying 'if we continue to ignore it there will be more needless deaths in the county'.
Cllr George Lawlor said that the council needed to be cognisant of Brexit. 'This is something that Wexford can't ignore and something that we can benefit from if we approach it in the right way. Wexford could be one of the few areas to benefit from it because of our location and the port.'
He also said that he hoped that Cllr Hegarty would focus on the issues of secondary school places in the county saying he believed it was crucial for the future of the county.