By Sean O’Riordan
The wheelchair-using councillor expected to be elected to the office of mayor in Cork County Council is adamant his disability will not impact greatly on the role.
Patrick Gerard Murphy said he would be determined to wear the chain of office at as many functions as possible, but acknowledged he would be unable to fulfil some duties.
A native of the Beara peninsula, the Bantry-based Fianna Fáil councillor is likely to secure the role of mayor of Cork county on June 22. He is expected to be elected due to a pact between his party and the Independents on the council.
It is Fianna Fáil’s turn to hold the chain of office and he is the chosen candidate.
Mr Murphy, who has used a wheelchair since a car crash in 1993, works as manager with National Learning Network in Bantry which delivers certified training programmes for people with disabilities.
The councillor said, if elected, he plans to highlight everyday physical obstacles that people with disabilities face when trying to navigate the streets of towns and villages.
In advance of being elected, County Hall is making preparations to provide a driver who would be available to the councillor, when required, for events and meetings.
One of the largest local authorities in the country, an elected mayor in Cork county can cover tens of thousands of kilometres, mainly outside of normal work hours.
With Cork City Council traditionally providing a driver for the Lord Mayor, the idea of having a full-time driver at County Hall was mooted several years ago by a number of councillors who highlighted health and safety issues, particularly for elected mayors travelling from some parts of West Cork across the sprawling county.
By contrast, the City Hall office holder covers a a more compact electoral area.
Ms Murphy said the boundary extension of Cork City Council and its impact on Cork County Council will remain a key issue in the year ahead, while he is also anxious to positively exploit the Cork coastline for expansion of tourism and economic developments.