Outgoing Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, Pio Smith, presents the chains of office to his successor, Cllr. Conor Keelan, at Monday’s meeting of the Council.
This week saw the last of the Annual Meetings for Louth Elected Members and a new Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council with Fianna Fáil Councillor Conor Keelan taking over the position from Labour’s Pio Smith.
Outgoing Cathaoirleach Cllr Pio Smith opening the annual meeting, offered his congratulations to Cllrs Kevin Meenan, Michelle Hall and Paula Butterly who had recently been elected Cathaoirleach of Dundalk, Drogheda and Ardee respectively, and called for the election of his replacement.
Following election, Cllr Conor Keelan who has been an elected member of Louth County Council since 2009, was welcomed to the chair of Louth County Council as Cathaoirleach.
The position of Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council is a statutory role with both legal and ceremonial responsibilities. During his term of office An Cathaoirleach Cllr Keelan will be required to preside over and manage Council Meetings, ensuring business discussed has due regard to legislation, is in line with adopted standing orders, and is in the interest of the community.
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An Cathaoirleach would be considered the “First Citizen” of the County and would have precedence at all places in Louth except when the President of Ireland is present.
Cllr Keelan will be required to perform an ambassadorial role both inside and outside Louth to represent and promote Louth in a positive manner, to encourage public involvement in Council activities and to act as a link between the Council and various groups and organisations.
Speaking after his election Cllr Keelan said he would strive to act as a fair and diligent Cathaoirleach and hoped he could compose himself in similar fashion to the outgoing Cathaoirleach Pio Smith whom he admired.
Members welcomed Cllr Keelan to the role of Cathaoirleach, wishing him the best for the year ahead and expressed confidence in his appointment, remembering his previous holding of the role of Dundalk Town Council Cathaoirleach. His strong personal and familial links with local politics, were remarked upon as his father had also previously served as an Elected Member in Louth.
Cllr. Keelan called for election of a Leas Cathaoirleach which resulted in Cllr Andrea McKevitt being elected to the role.
The role of Leas Cathaoirleach is to deputise for the Cathaoirleach, support him at events and to carry out his duties in his absence. Cllr McKevitt who was coopted onto the Council in 2020 was warmly welcomed to the role by Members.
On behalf of the Council the Chief Executive, Joan Martin congratulated Cllr. Conor Keelan on his elevation to the Chair and wished him and Cllr. McKevitt well in their roles advised she and her staff were here to help in any way.