Mental health expert Tony replaces Deirdre
A new councillor who is an expert in suicide and mental health was welcomed into the fold at Wexford County Hall chamber.
Cllr Tony Walshe was making his first foray into local politics.
From south Tipperary, Cllr Walshe was coopted onto the council, taking the place of Cllr Deirdre Wadding who announced her retirement at the October meeting.
Cllr Walshe thanked everyone at Wexford County Council for welcoming him.
He said: 'Many people who heard I was joining you all discussed it with me with grave concern as if I was going to my death. I hope I can dispel any negativity about the council for the people I represent.'
Cllr Walshe outlined his formative years growing up in a big farming family.
'I suffered at the hands of many abusers including teachers and Christian Brothers and at a very ealry age I became aware of how unequal society was. My father died when I was eight and I drifted towards the poorer group (in my village).'
He studied sociology and psychology degrees, focussing on staff welfare and prisoner rehabilitation.
Cllr Walshe worked in prisons and saw first hand how drugs and alcohol misuse led to suicide and depression. He released a book called Understanding Suicide in 2015.
'Children today are pushed into competitive wars,' he said, adding that children's gifts are not developed.
'We set the majority of children up to fail with only those who match the demands of our education system deemed a success. In our society rather than being shocked by suicide we expect it as a byproduct of our society. I believe our future society will look back in disgust at this era.'
Cllr Walshe said homelessness is a major issue, praising his predecessor Cllr Deirdre Wadding for driving a homeless man to Mountmellick three days previously, to a place where he could get shelter, as none was available in County Wexford.
'I hope we can be the generation that brings about that vital change that is needed for future generations. I am here to serve the most vulnerable and the marginalised,' Cllr Walshe said.
Cllr Paddy Kavanagh wished Cllr Wadding well in her future and welcomed Cllr Walshe into the fold.
He said: 'When you start off life as a councillor you have great aspirations to change the world. You think all the things you have been fighting for over the years, that you will change them within your first term.
'Then you get a rude awakening when you come in here but if you can make some little difference that's great. I have contented myself with making a little difference and if everyone can make some little difference, it's the sum of them all together that makes change.'
Cllr Tony Dempsey said his party, Fianna Fáil is committed to providing free education, saying it is the most valuable legacy.
Cllr Johnny Mythen said his party, Sinn Fein, is interested in social captialism.
'We will work well with you and we will help you in any way we can,' he said.
Cllr George Lawlor welcomed Cllr Walshe, saying: 'A more decent, honourable man I don't think you will find. We will all have our difference but the thrust of eveything we do is for the people of County Wexford and for the betterment of County Wexford and once we all make that our driving goal we won't go too far wrong.'
CEO Tom Enright welcomed Cllr Walshe, saying that he looks forward to working with him.