Outgoing Cork county councillors Paul Hayes, Alan O’Connor, Marcia D’Alton, Sean O’Connor, Kevin Murphy, John O’Sullivan, Susan McCarthy, and Danielle Twomey, with County Mayor, Cllr Frank O’Flynn. Photo: Brian Lougheed

‘A new broom comes in and we do our best – but that’s it’

There were many poignant sentiments at County Hall this week as nine elected members of Cork County Council stood down from their roles.

Monday saw the final sitting of 2019’s elected council which, in its five years, helped to guide Cork through a boundary change, a global pandemic, and some of the worst flooding the county has ever seen.

The council also oversaw the creation and adoption of the Cork County Development Plan 2022-2028.

In his final address as Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Frank O’Flynn described his year as the first citizen of the county as a “labour of love”.

“Let’s be honest, it is 24 hours a day, 365, there’s no hiding behind anything; it’s a very responsibly job and I took it very seriously and I hope I did my best,” said Mr O’Flynn.

With councillors Kevin Murphy, John O’Sullivan, Sean O'Connor, Susan McCarthy, Marcia D’Alton, Paul Hayes, Danielle Twomey, James Kennedy, and Alan O’Connor all stepping down, the mayor invited them all to say a few words.

Bandon-Kinsale Fine Gael representative since 1988, Cllr Kevin Murphy, said: “This is a lonesome day for me.

“I have put down those 37 years very happily. Like everything else, there always comes a time when people have to say enough is enough.”

Bandon-Kinsale and former West Cork/Skibbereen representative for Fine Gael, first elected in 2009, Cllr John O’Sullivan, said: “I came in here full of enthusiasm and gusto of what we could do and what we could achieve.

“In the words of the former taoiseach, we do what we do while we can until we can do it no more. I can do it no more so I’m leaving here today, happy that I did what I could.”

Independent Cobh Cllr Sean O'Connor, elected to the council in 2009 and returning again in 2019, was unable to attend the end of the meeting.

Thanking the Cobh councillor for his service, Mayor O'Flynn said: “He has been committed to serving the people of Cobh and beyond, his councillor duties by serving as chairman on several boards such as Carrignafoy Community College and Cobh GAA.”

Elected in 2014 to the East Cork area, Fine Gael Cllr Susan McCarthy said: “It’s a very emotional day today – very, very bittersweet.

“I’m really looking forward to my retirement, taking things in a different direction, but I am so going to miss this. I can’t believe it’s my last day.”

Serving on the council for Carrigaline since 2014, and on the Passage West Town Council since 2004, Independent Cllr Marcia D’Alton, said: “We have the common string of our community running through us and it doesn’t matter what corner of the county we come from, that’s what drives us forward.

“It’s just been such a pleasure to be here; the learning for me has been immense.”

Former Sinn Féin and then Independent Cllr Paul Hayes, elected in 2014 in the West Cork area, said: “It’s a day of mixed emotions. It definitely feels a bit strange.

“We certainly differed politically sometimes over those years, but we were all working for the best of our constituents.

“It is a tough job, and it is getting tougher.”

Another former Sinn Féin and departing Independent councillor, Danielle Twomey, first co-opted eight years ago, said: “Despite party affiliation, we all worked together really efficiently, cohesively, respectfully. I will always cherish that time.”

Mallow Labour Cllr James Kennedy was elected in 2019 as well as serving as Mayor of Mallow in 2008 and 2009.

Speaking on his behalf, Labour Cllr Cathal Rasmussen, said: “The funny side of James, he could never remember my name for the five years I was sitting beside him.

“It is important to remember all those who served here. It’s not about political divides.”

Green Party representative since 2019, Cllr Alan O’Connor said: “I am grateful to my fellow MD councillors in Carrigtwohill who often shared a lift – thanks for keeping my green credentials going there when my bike was in the shop.

“Five years can be a lifetime really, and life is short.

“New members will come in in the next five years and the present, as Lucretius the Roman philosopher said, will soon be the past, never to be recalled.

“A new broom comes in and we do our best – but that’s it.”