The new Lord Mayor of Cork said he wants to build connections between various communities and residents of the newly enlarged city.
Fianna Fáil Cllr John Sheehan, a GP on the northside of the city who represents the north west local electoral area, was speaking after he was elected Lord Mayor during last night's AGM of the new city council.
Following a vote against Sinn Féin's nominee, Cllr Kenneth Collins, and Solidarity's nominee, Worker's Party Cllr Ted Tynan, Mr Sheehan, 52, was elected with 18 votes thanks to the support of the seven Fine Gael councillors, Labour's John Maher, and independents Kieran McCarthy and Ger Keohane.
Mr Collins got four votes, with Mr Tynan, who criticised the return of a pact between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, securing three.
Mr Sheehan said he was deeply honoured to take on the role at a time when the city is growing.
He said through his medical practice, he sees many people facing different kinds of adversity and he feels privileged to listen to them and journey with them.
"Being listened to and having a voice is how people feel engaged. We as a society fail when people feel they are not listened to or that they do not matter," he said.
"Seeing many of the challenges that people have to overcome encouraged me to try and address these issues at a societal level."
He said he will spend the year working to build connections between the new communities of the expanded city, between the new groups who have made Ireland their home, and between marginalised groups so that they feel they are part of the life and blood of the city.
"It is about being inclusive and making sure people are heard and feel part of the city," he said.
We are a society not and not just an economy. All parts of that society need to be understood and cherished.
Outgoing Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick Finn, said Cork is a city on the move, with the city boundary extension and ambitious transport strategies helping to drive that growth.
"And the people in this room will be at the centre of that powerhouse," he said.
He urged all 31 councillors to be calm and patient as the new council settles in, and as new structures and meeting schedules bed in and he said reviews will be part of the process.
But he said he lack of clear progress on the event centre project was his biggest disappointment.
"It is now into a third council cycle. It needs to happen if Cork is to prosper," he said.
Green Party Cllr Dan Boyle congratulate Cllr Sheehan but said there is an onus on the members of the new council who now represent a new city to do things better over the coming five years.
Mr Sheehan was joined by family and friends, including his wife, Aedamar, a teacher at St Vincent’s NS, two of their four children, Cillian, 19, who is sitting his leaving certificate exams, and Eimear, 11 - Conor, 20, is studying in Oxford, and Eoghan, 16, was attending a basketball awards ceremony - and by members of his extended family.
Dr Sheehan plans to continue working part-time in his medical practice in Blackpool, alongside his practice partner, Dr Antoinette Morrison, and has arranged locum cover for his year in office.
Thirteen new city councillors - four of whom were county councillors - took up their seats in City Hall last night.