The new lord mayor of Cork ignored a large vocal protest last night and vowed to review city centre parking policy and advance plans for a new food emporium for the city.
There was a visible Garda presence and tight security around City Hall as about 100 protestors gathered outside as Labour councillor Catherine Clancy was elected the 113th mayor of Cork.
Ms Clancy was elected during Cork City Council’s AGM under a pact that sees the chain of office rotate between members of Fine Gael, Labour, and Fianna Fáil.
Originally from Ballyphehane, Ms Clancy, 58, who has represented the north central ward since her co-option on to council in 2003, defeated the Sinn Féin nominee, Henry Cremin, by 20 votes to six. She is the fourth female lord mayor.
Workers’ Party councillor Ted Tynan, who supported Mr Cremin’s nomination, described the pact as "undemocratic" and the election ceremony a "circus". Socialist Party councillor Mick Barry left the meeting after describing it as "a bit like watching Match of the Day".
"You know the result before you turn on the TV," he said.
Ms Clancy was joined by her husband, Martin, their children, Aoife, 31, Bryan, 25, and Colin, 24, and her parents, Tom and Cecilia. Her brother, Cork South Central Labour TD Ciaran Lynch, and her sister-in- law, junior minister Kathleen Lynch, were in the public gallery.
Earlier, several protestors, including some linked to the Cork Campaign Against Household and Water Tax picketed outside Ms Clancy’s home.
Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party distanced themselves from this protest.
Diarmaid Ó Cahdla, of the People’s Convention, defended the strategy and said it was allowed in a free democracy.
The CCAHWT led a larger protest outside the council AGM. "The Labour Party have betrayed their voters and working people," official campaign spokesman Jim O’Connell said.
"They promised to challenge the bondholders but are hammering ordinary people instead.
"Alongside their partners in government, Fine Gael, they are imposing a property tax, which they are threatening to rob from the wages, pensions, and welfare payments of non-payers."
The protestors also targeted Ms Clancy’s celebrations at The Commons Inn, Old Mallow Road, later.
Ms Clancy declined to comment on the protests, or on controversy over the €110,000 mayoral salary.
In her speech, she said she plans to focus on three key areas during the year — to enhance the city centre, to promote Cork as the food festival capital of Ireland, and to make it one of the best cities in the country in which to grow old.
She plans to meet with Cork Chamber and the Cork Business Association to explore how City Hall can help businesses, and she plans to set up a review group to look solely at parking issues.
Buttimer’s parting shot at protesters
The outgoing Lord Mayor of Cork took a parting swipe last night at protesters who disrupted council meetings twice during his term.
As security staff kept dozens of protesters outside City Hall, Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer said people are free to protest, but should not disrupt the democratic right of elected representatives to conduct their business.
"We live in a free, democratic society and, as a democrat, I believe in the right of people to participate in the political process and to dissent when they object to local or national policies," he said.
"During the course of the year, a number of our meetings were subject to protest and disruption to such a degree that meetings had to be abandoned and the Garda Síochána called to restore order.
" I do not object to protest but I do object to council staff and officials being threatened and intimidated. I also object to protests which interfere with and prevent the democratic right of elected councillors to conduct their business in this representative council chamber."
Mr Buttimer, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma midway through his term, and who is still undergoing treatment, said it had been an interesting, diverse, and challenging year for him, both as a private citizen and as first citizen.
"I have had the privilege of meeting individuals and groups I would not have otherwise met and was shown an insight to the inner workings of the city," he said.
"I hope that I have contributed as much as I have gained." Referring to his battle with cancer, he thanked family and friends for their support, and staff of the Bon Secours and Cork University hospitals.
"In particular, I am indebted to the people of Cork for their generous and unwavering support and positivity," he said.