THE YOUGHAL BRANCH of the Fine Gael party held a celebratory reception for their colleague Barbara Murray, the newly elected Mayor of County Cork. The special evening to commemorate the occasion was held at The Walter Raleigh Hotel on Monday 16th July 2012.
Glowing tributes were heaped upon Barbara, who is only the second woman to acquire the chain of office as the county’s first citizen. As she was surrounded by family, friends and dignitaries including David Stanton TD., a special commemorative engraved crystal gift was presented to Barbara as a memento of the occasion. Robert Sweetnam, Chairman of the Youghal branch of the Fine Gael Party said ” It’s a wonderful achievement. It will be great for the town and the whole county, Barbara is a tireless worker. We are delighted.”
Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Barbara Murray
Cllr Barbara Murray was elected Mayor of the County of Cork for the year 2012-13. Eight years into her political life, Youghal Town and Cork County Councillor Barbara Murray is settling into her role as the county’s first citizen. As well as being only the second woman to acquire the chain, the new mayor bridges a gap of over 60 years as the first Youghal representative to take the office since the late Cllr. William J Broderick.
In a brief acceptance the new mayor described her election as a huge honour and the pinnacle of her electoral career. She thanked her party colleagues for allowing her the opportunity to put herself forward for the role and in particular her proposer, party Chairman and fellow constituent, Cllr Michael Hegarty and her seconder, party secretary, Cllr Pa O’Driscoll. Others to whom she paid tribute were the Independent camp, headed by Cllr. Noel Collins, Youghal and Cork County Council colleague Cllr. Michelle Hennessy of Sinn Fein and Labour Party councillors. She commended outgoing mayor, Cllr. Tim Lombard (FG) for his “tremendous work” and hoped that her tenure would “be somewhere as successful” as that of her predecessor.
Cllr Murray said that the support of her family has “always been unwavering” since and including her days as President of Youghal’s Chamber of Commerce and through various election campaigns.” She proceeded that “those who know me well will I’m sure concur that I am totally committed to my work as a Councillor. I am a full-time Councillor, and therefore in a position to give 100% commitment to the office of Mayor. I am extremely fortunate that my family are at the stage that allows me to do this.
The new mayor then outlined priorities as mayor. “We all know that local authorities are traditionally perceived as being associated with the collection of rates, social housing, water, sewage, dealing with roads etc,” she began. “While all are essential functions, one of my priorities as your newly elected County Mayor is to promote County Cork in the areas of tourism and enterprise.” “Tourism is one of Cork’s finest assets and a key driver of economic growth in the region. The Mayor described Cork County Council as “hugely progressive” in having already taken significant steps in investing in tourism product offerings such as Mallow Castle, Spike Island, Fort Meagher Camden and Mizen Foot Bridge. Cllr. Murray believes these amenities, together with investment in walkways such as the West Cork Rail line and (subject to Failte Ireland match funding) Phase II of Youghal’s eco boardwalk,” would significantly improve the tourism experience for visitors and provide local enhancement for residents to enjoy. The County Council has also launched very imaginative plans for our Regional Park in Ballincollig.
The Mayor encouraged the council to embrace technology and to integrate it into tourism. As a recent convert to ‘web apps,’ she sees the potential in that technology and hopes the County Manager supports her initiative to introduce a visitor ‘app’ on tourism in Cork County. It has been suggested to her, she confided, that it be labelled an ‘ABC’ App – All Bout Cork. It would be highly economic and “tie in perfectly with the work of our new tourism development unit who are presently working on a tourism website,” she urged.
Investment and enterprise
Cllr. Murray’s speech then commented on the establishment of the Economic Development Section at County Hall, which she described as a highly successful and most innovative initiative that works in tandem with the Leader Companies and Enterprise Boards in the region. Its brief has delivered for a wide range of companies and start-ups in the County, she continued who otherwise may not receive funding. She sees it as an area of development that is at an early stage and open to further exploration.
Regarding investment and enterprise, the Mayor believes it “imperative” that the current strong relationship between the IDA and Cork County Council be maintained and nurtured by way of assisting and encouraging multinational investment. Cllr. Murray offered a good example of this partnership working by recalling a recent meeting between the Midleton area members and Sangart, an American Bio Pharma Company looking to locate in Ireland. “They (the American Group) were truly amazed that so many doors were opened to assist them in preparing to locate to Carrigtohill,” she said. The mayor further referred to the Science Park at Curraheen, a Cork County Council initiative of 100 hectares divided into six precincts, as a further collaboration whereby Cork County Council is “working with various partners to create new businesses and jobs.”
New sources of funding
Money is forever a problem these times and Cllr. Murray believes that Cork County Council must look to reinvent in response to the present difficult economic climate. “For all enterprise to succeed, be it private or public, new funding sources have to be found,” she surmised while “existing sources of funding have to be maximized to the limit.” We also need to look at broadening our existing partnerships with the Enterprise Boards, and work even closer with the Business Community through the various Chambers of Commerce,” she observed.
Cllr. Murray referred to “the success of ‘Cork Meet,’ a one-day forum initiative through which Cork and Dublin businesses can look beyond traditional promotional activities and make direct contact with potential Irish clients. “It is also my belief that our Council should continue to support the various food fairs that Cork County Council have led through previous mayors,” enthused the mayor, referring specifically to Cllr. Tim Lombard “bringing 16 food companies to Amsterdam with another food fair shortly to be held in France.”
In summary, Cllr Murray said “the few areas that I have covered is but a snapshot of some of the activities that Cork County Council have initiated. As a local authority we have huge areas of responsibility and in turn we as councillors also have a huge workload. We are responsible for the longest road network, second longest coastline and a population of 399,216. Like previous mayors, I will continue to promote the work of Cork County Council and will strive to raise the profile of this local authority to the level that it rightfully deserves.”
The Mayor can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 021 4285457.