Newly elected mayor of Cork County Cllr Gillian Coughlan at Cork County Hall with husband Donough and their children Aidan, Maeve and Ronan. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

New mayor for the county

The new Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Gillian Coughlan chaired her first full council meeting this week following her election.

The Fianna Fáil councillor from Bandon replaced Independent Cllr Mary Linehan Foley who took the reins shortly after the beginning of the pandemic.

Mayor Coughlan, who teaches history through the Irish language at Coláiste an Phiarsaigh in Glanmire, represents the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District.

She was originally co-opted into Cork County Council in 2016 following the general election win for Fianna Fáil’s Margaret Murphy O’Mahony.

She had previously been elected to the Bandon Town Council in 2009 where she remained until town councils were abolished in 2014 under the Local Government Reform Act.

During her time on the town council, Mayor Coughlan was involved in Bandon’s flood relief project.

Mayor Coughlan has stated that her initial priority will be to support the people and businesses of Cork County as Ireland emerges from the pandemic. Recognising that lockdowns have been very difficult on people socially, psychologically, emotionally and financially, Mayor Coughlan highlighted how “there has been an incredible show of resilience and solidarity in all sectors of society in Cork county, and Cork County Council together with the county’s voluntary and statutory agencies have played a vital role in supporting people. It is essential that as we move forward together, we don’t leave anyone behind.”

She added: “I also look forward to the continued town and village renewal and regeneration which has been accelerated through Project ACT.

“Social and economic recovery will benefit immensely from collaboration between the Council, businesses and volunteers, and I greatly look forward to meeting people countywide who give their time to enhancing their locales.

“By ensuring that each town and village puts its best foot forward, our towns and villages will emerge as great places for travel, business and great places to live.”

Other priorities for Mayor Coughlan include the provision of affordable housing schemes, climate adaptation and mitigation and supporting heritage work in the county.

“I’m also looking forward to working alongside Cork County Council in advancing digitisation and education programmes such as those run through the council’s Local Enterprise Offices and Library Services,” she said.

During her time in third level education, she studied history and political science at Trinity College Dublin before returning home to Cork to complete a higher diploma in education at UCC.

Mayor Coughlan, who resides in her native Bandon with husband Don and their three children, was uncontested in last Friday’s election having been nominated by Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) and seconded by Independent Cllr Declan Hurley.

Labour Councillor for Cobh Cathal Rasmussen was elected as Deputy Mayor for the coming year.