By Noel Dundon
Councillor Joe Bourke was elected Mayor of the Thurles Templemore Municipal District this week and immediately pledged to advance the Templemore Town Park and the Town Hall projects which have been at stalemate in recent times.
The experienced councillor defeated Councillor Jim Ryan for the position after a vote which resulted in a 7/2 victory, following an attempt to have the de Hondt system once again introduced to the District.
Cllr Ryan labelled the result undemocratic and then refused a nomination for the position of Vice Chairperson on the grounds that he would not be a 'hypocrite' by accepting the nomination of a pact grouping.
The vote and subsequent exchanges from council members clouded Cllr Bourke's election, but he stated that he was ready to take up the challenges for the next year. He cited the development of the Templemore Town Hall as one of his priorities describing it as an 'iconic building in the centre of town' and he also sought to have the Masterplan for Templemore Town Park advanced to include the 60 acres of land purchased by Templemore Town Council on the Roscrea road.
Councillor Bourke also mentioned the proposed up-grade to Liberty Square in Thurles and the opening of a business innovation centre in Roscrea as being very significant. And, he had a strong message for those members around the table as well.
“I am appealing to you all to leave politics outside the door when we come in here to sort out the different issues for the District. It will be better for all if we can do that and I am promising everyone that I will be fair and open to all in how I try to run the meetings,” he said.
Councillor Bourke paid tribute to Cllr John Hogan, outgoing Chairman, as did all members of the District. Cllr Hogan had told the councillors prior to vacating the Chair that the Districts are still in “a settling down period” following the abolition of the Town Councils, but he added that they are steadily improving in the provision of services to the public. He lamented the lack of progress with the homeless crisis but added that it is a national issue which needs to be tackled. Still, 47 houses will be built by the council in 2016 and that is significant, he said.
Cllr Micheal Lowry was elected Vice- Chairperson having been proposed by Cllr Michael Smith and seconded Cllr Seamus Hanafin.