'Wexford is on cusp of exciting times'
Cllr. George Lawlor was elected uncontested as the Mayor of Wexford on the strength of a four-vote pact with his Labour party colleague Maura Bell, Independent Leondard Kelly and Fianna Fail's and Garry Laffan.
Cllr. Lawlor was also supported by Cllr. John Hegarty of Fine Gael who was not part of the agreement but still voted for him. 'I'm not a part of any pact. I don't have an issue with George being elected Mayor. He has a great track record. I would be interested in seeing how it will play out over the next five years', he said.
Poll topping Cllr. Lawlor was proposed by newly-elected Cllr. Bell and was seconded by Cllr. Laffan, Fianna Fail successor to the retired councillor and Mayor Tony Dempsey.
In the vote for Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Bell was proposed by Cllr. Laffan and seconded by Cllr. Kelly and unanimously elected.
After taking the robes, Cllr. Lawlor who has served as Mayor on three previous occasions, thanked the Labour Party and his family for their support.
Mayor Lawlor said Wexford 'is on the cusp of exciting times' with the opening of the Enniscorthy and New Ross by-passes set to make the area one of the most attractive and accessible places to do business in Ireland.
He spoke about the housing crisis and said the onus is on the Council to build 'not just houses but homes and communities'.
On the issue of Climate Change, he said the Council can play a part in changing attitudes and practices. 'I look forward to working towards a greener agenda for the betterment of our economy'.
Cllr. Lawlor said a new third level education campus is a must if Wexford is to develop its potential but there have been a few 'false dawns' in relation to a site and he will work with any group to ensure that it is developed.
On mental health, he spoke about the 'chronic shorfall' and said he will lobby for proper services to be put in place for those who need them.
'I commit to work with all my colleagues for the benefit of all our citizens', he pledged.
The newly-elected Mayor was congratulated by his colleagues with Cllr. Laffan saying that for him as a new councillor, it will be 'a new challenge and a learning curve'.
Cllr. Kelly said he looked forward to working with the Mayor and the three other councillors present, as well as the two absent members.
'This is a great town but it is our job to help and support all the people who make up this great town and county', he said.
Cllr. Hegarty emphasised the need for councillors to work together. As was shown in Wexford Park recently, anything could be achieved through commitment, passion and desire. The Council can succeed if they are united and that it how they should start out from day one.
Cllr. Bell said she was 'thrilled and delighted' that Cllr. Lawlor was Mayor and she looked forward to working with everyone who was elected.
'We need to put all the differences aside when we get around the table', she said.