First SF Cork lord mayor for 90 years

Sinn Féin Cllr Chris O'Leary will become the first Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork since Seán French in 1925.

Chris O’Leary is poised to become the first Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork in 90 years.

The Mahon-based community worker, who represents the Cork South East Ward on Cork City Council, confirmed last night he has received the party nomination for the position, which will be voted upon in June.

The party is due to hold the chain of office next under the terms of the D’Hondt agreement, which was agreed with the other main parties after the last local elections.

Mr O’Leary, who will become the first Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork since Seán French held the position in 1925, said he was deeply honoured to receive the party nomination.

However, Mr O’Leary, defeated last weekend in a party convention to select their candidate in Cork South Central in next year’s general election, said he did not view the mayoral nomination as a consolation prize.

“I am very honoured to be chosen by the party for consideration as first citizen of our city,” he said. “And I am very conscious that, if elected, I will be holding the chain of office during the centenary year of the Easter Rising. It was a revolution which sparked the foundation of our Republic. Next year will be a time to honour those who went before us, to reflect on what the struggle was for, and to assess where we are today.

“I also hope to honour those unsung heroes involved in the birth of our nation.”

Mr O’Leary has, for several years, been an outspoken critic of councillors’ expenses, foreign junkets, and of the former €90,000 mayoral salary, which was, until last year, linked to that of a TD.

Together with a councillor’s representational payment, the mayor was, in recent years, pulling in a salary of over €100,000.

However, under new rules introduced by former Environment Minister Phil Hogan last year, the mayoral salary was slashed by some €57,000, while the amount councillors can claim for attending conferences was also reduced to €1,000.

Mr O’Leary said he would be happy to accept the current mayoral salary of €30,000, and will only consider foreign travel if it was in the best interests of the city.

“I won’t be travelling first class and I will try to identify areas where money can be saved, areas where we can make savings, and channel it into projects that could do with it.”

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