Latest Laois News: Retiring Councillor gives farewell speech in Laois County Council Chamber
Fond farewell for retiring Fine Gael Councillor Mary Sweeney
“First of all, it is great to be back in the Chamber with you all, albeit for the final time in my 22 years in Laois County Council. I was afforded the lovely opportunity to address my fellow councillors and the staff and management of the Portlaoise MD last Wednesday so I don’t want to turn this into the long goodbye!
However, it was very important to me that I acknowledge all of you before I formally retire. I want to thank you for your generosity and kind words since I decided to retire. I would like to sincerely thank the Manager, his management team and the wonderful staff in Laois County Council who exemplify the spirit of public service and who have been so supportive.
It has been an honour to have served in this Chamber since 1999 and I have worked closely with some great councillors and characters and I want to express my gratitude to you all for your collegiality. Whilst we dealt with a lot of serious issues and ensured the work got done, I reflect on my times here as happy ones. We take our responsibilities to the people very seriously and that has been reflected in how we met the challenge of rapid growth with greater infrastructure, more schools, improved roads, increased investment and job and a wonderful county with which to promote.
I would like to thank the Fine Gael party, my Fine Gael colleagues, past and present and Deputy Flanagan and his team for their friendship and advice during my time in politics. I had the honour of contesting five elections and canvassing across many more and it is a wonderful experience to put your name forward and to be acknowledged by the electorate for the work you do on their behalf. It wouldn’t be a Council meeting if I didn’t take the opportunity to mention my own village of Ballyroan where they have backed me all the way through the years. I have had equally great support from people across the Portlaoise electoral area and indeed across the county, no more so than during my time representing Laois as Cathaoirleach in 2013/2014.
I also want to give my thanks to the local media who reported fairly and impartially on the issues that I raised and to the photographers who didn’t complain when I asked them to take one more photo!
Outside of the Chamber, I was truly honoured to Chair and sit on boards of excellent bodies including the LOETB, the Dunamaise Arts Centre and the Portlaoise Enterprise Centre. My participation and contribution to those boards reflected my own interest in education, enterprise and the Arts. I was very lucky to have represented this council in areas that I am deeply passionate about. It reminded me of the quote that “Knowledge can fill up a room but take up no space”
And it is within the context of that line, and in my final council meeting, that I reiterate my support, as a former staff member of Laois County Library Service, for the construction of the new library on Main Street. That, along with other cultural, sporting, educational and heritage projects within the county will be our legacy to hand over to the next generation to nurture.
It is the end of an era for my family in Ballyroan. I have had incredible support from them throughout the years and none more so when I decided to retire. It wouldn’t have been possible to do this without my family and friends. I want to thank Conor and Aoife, who in their own lives have been able to enjoy politics and political life, but as we step back,we look forward to the next chapter. We are living in unusual and unpredictable times, but in more certain times, I look forward to inviting you all to the village for a rendition of the Sky’s Oer Ballyroan. Thank you.”