By Eoin Kelleher
The Sinn Féin Mayor of Cashel has shown enormous physical and mental courage by defying his life threatening illness to tell Cashel Town Council he would welcome the Queen of England to the town if that is what the majority of the people want.
Mayor of Cashel, Cllr Michael Browne, who has bravely battled cancer for the past few months, told Cashel Town Council on Monday evening that he would welcome the Queen to the historic town despite a recent letter to the local media by Tipperary Sinn Fein Councillors condemning the visit.
Welcoming the Mayor into the Chamber, Cllr Sean McCarthy said there had been some “adverse publicity” in the media regarding the visit, with the prospect of “possible protests.” Cllr McCarthy wished Mayor Browne good health and asked him what his “precise position” was on the upcoming state visit, given that it could be a “great boost to tourism and and strengthen our morale” and “international relations.”
“I am delighted to be back here,” said Mayor Browne, who has been unable to attend Council meetings due to his grave illness. Cllr Browne said he was elected by the people on June 11th 2009. Within a fortnight, there was an agreement made in Cashel that Cllr Browne would be made Mayor.
“Unfortunately, my health is not as good as I would like it to be. I was elected as a representative of the people unanimously. I feel that I have no other option only to go along (with the visit).”
Cllr Browne said that he now accepted that the vast majority of people in Cashel are welcoming the Queen of England to the Cashel. “Ian Paisley said ‘No’ for 40 years,” he said. Referring to the conflict in Northern Ireland, Cllr Browne said it takes a brave man, such as a certain fellow Sinn Fein member, to overcome the past, and lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.
Up to about 10 minutes before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, there were Sinn Fein members who held out. “I will go along with the wishes of the people of Cashel,” said Cllr Browne, adding that some of the money recently spent on improving infrastructure around the town, would not have been spent were it nor for the Queen’s visit.
Cashel’s economy “will benefit and accrue, in the near and far future.” “I think and I hope that the biggest beneficiary will be the Tidy Towns people. I hope that everybody gets behind the Tidy Towns committee next June,” said Mayor Browne.
Cllr Sean McCarthy complimented the Mayor on his “honest and straightforward” answer. “You are truly a representative of the people of Cashel.”
Cllr McCarthy said he would call on his colleague, Tidy Towns Chairperson Paddy Downey, and Denis Heffernan, from the award-winning village of Emly, to help Cashel. “It would put the icing on the cake.”
Cllr PJ Quinlan said it was a credit to the Mayor that he was willing to endorse the Queen’s visit. “A Céad Míle Failte is crucial.”
Cllr Maribel Wood said she was delighted to hear the “nice words” of Cllr Browne. “You have put the town first. I know Cllr Browne is very honest and loves the town. (You’re) putting the town first, ahead of party politics.”
Separately, the Chamber heard that security arrangements regarding the Queen’s visit will be made public this week. Town Clerk Marie McGivern, responding to Cllr PJ Quinlan, said the gardai have not made any detailed public announcments yet, but are expected to do so this week.