The Hanafin name is back at the centre of Tipperary politics after Cllr Seamus Hanafin was this Monday elected as the new Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council.
The Fianna Fail councillor was elected unopposed after he was proposed by Cllr Jackie Cahill and seconded by Cllr Roger Kennedy.
Cllr Cahill, who will contest the next general election for FF, pointed out that Cllr Hanafin was the sixth member of the family to represent Fianna Fail in local and national politics, and followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, his uncle Des; aunt Binky and cousin John.
The new Cathaoirleach put jobs and the commemoration of the Easter Rising next year as top of his list of priorities for his term in office.
“The single biggest challenge is bringing jobs to County Tipperary,” he said. “I am not the only councillor disappointed that the IDA cancelled a recent visit to Tipperary.”
He pointed out that out of the jobs in the county that come from Foriegn Direct Investment through the IDA, 3,200 were in South Tipperary and only 200 in North Tipperary.
“North Tipperary has always been the poor relation of the Mid West. We can’t allow a two-speed recovery. It is important we get our share,” said Cllr Hanafin.
The Thurles-based businessman said he would also be examining initiatives to support local businesses. He is also looking forward to working with the county tourism board.
One of the big challenges would be the new County Development Plan, which, he said, they “must get right”.
In relation to commemorating 1916, he said: “We have to make sure we have a full programme that is dignified, inclusive and historically accurate.”
He will put a suggestion by Cllr Ger Darcy and former councillor Jim Casey to the council that a full meeting of Tipperary County Council be held in Cloughjordan, birthplace of Tomas McDonagh.
With a number of councillors jockeying for position as the general election approaches, Cllr Hanafin warned: “I am aware some members will be putting their names forward. We must be mindful not to allow national issues distract us here.”
Cllr Hanafin was joined in the council chamber by his wife, Jenny; daughters Rosemary and Katie; son Seamie; mother Peg; brother, Paddy; uncle, Des and his wife, Mona, and family friends former councillor John Sheey and Geraldine Doherty.
Cllr Hanafin’s election was welcomed by his fellow councillors, with Cllr Michael Smith saying the new Cathaoirleach would be “solid, firm and equally fair”.
Cllr John Carroll described him as an “excellent pair of hands”, while Cllr John Hogan said Cllr Hanafin was “never afraid to take hard decisions”.
Fellow Thurles councillors Micheal Lowry, David Doran and Jim Ryan also paid tribute to Cllr Hanafin, with Cllr Ryan saying the new Cathaoirlecah brought a “wealth of experience” to the position.
Cllr Seamus Morris of Sinn Fein, while welcoming Cllr Hanafin’s election, said his party’s thoughts on the pact system were well-known and they would be looking to change Standing Orders during the year.
On behalf of the council, county CEO Joe MacGrath said the Hanafin family had made a huge contribution over the years.
“You have a busy year ahead and I hope it is one you will enjoy,” he said.
Cllr John Fahy, FG, Killenaule was elected leas-Chathaoirleach unopposed. He was proposed by Cllr Mary Hanna and seconded by Cllr Ger Darcy