Home Politics Local Elections Election Diary: Digital hub in Rathdowney, unusual political meeting, Main Street Portlaoise...

Election Diary: Digital hub in Rathdowney, unusual political meeting, Main Street Portlaoise and 120 years since first Laois County Councillor meeting

Plans to launch Erkina digital hub in Rathdowney 

A Laois councillor is working on launching a new digital hub in Rathdowney.

Working alongside former Paypal boss Louise Phelan, and following engagement with a number of key stakeholders to establish a Jobs Taskforce for Laois, Laois county councillor Brendan Phelan announces that he is working on launching the Erkina Digital Hub in Rathdowney.

“The Erkina Digital Hub will be developed in close collaboration with, and will complement, the digital hubs already up and running in our local towns of Mountrath and Mountmellick,” said Cllr Phelan.

“The overall objective of digital hubs will be to create jobs in the area with a positive spin off for local businesses that in turn will support the ongoing development and sustainability of our towns and villages.

“These include Rathdowney, Errill, Borris in Ossory, Ballacolla, Durrow, Cullahill, Castletown, Camross and Mountrath and their surrounding areas. Digital hubs will also present the real potential of ‘better ways to work’ for commuters,” Cllr Phelan concluded.

Anyone with an interest in this project can contact Brendan directly on 087 2750175 or by email: erkinadigitalhub@gmail.com.

Cllr Brendan Phelan with supporters at his recent launch, including his sister Louise, who recently stepped aside from her leading role with Paypal

Unusual meeting point as FG and FF candidates cross paths in Portarlington

The Tuesday after a Bank Holiday weekend can be a low-profile enough time in some retail outlets – but there was footfall of a different kind in Fifty Seven Boutique in Portarlington yesterday as canvassing politicians all arrived at the same time.

Local Fine Gael councillor Tom Mulhall was doing his rounds when he bumped into Laois TD Sean Fleming who was canvassing with Fianna Fáil’s European Election candidate Malcolm Byrne from Wexford.

Despite being outnumbered, it’s believed Cllr Mulhall more than held his own and survived to continue his canvas. And as the photo suggest, it was a good-humoured meeting in the women’s clothes shop.

Malcolm Byrne and Sean Fleming later made their way to Portlaoise for a Fianna Fáil election rally in the Killeshin Hotel.

Revival of Portlaoise main street – Iqbal 

Local election candidate for the Portlaoise municipal district area Naeem Iqbal spoke about the ‘survival’ of of small businesses on Main Street .

“The impact of the Ireland Financial Crisis which hit businesses in 2007-08 sounded the death knell for Portlaoise Main Street Local businesses,” said Mr Iqbal.

“To date, the lack of a comprehensive plan to support businesses and revive the Street is felt acutely. The footfall on the Street has taken a hit, making the survival of small businesses hard,” said the local election candidate. 

Mr Iqbal proposes three points to ‘turn the tide’:

  • Business rates to be slashed to half for the next three years for existing businesses.
  • Zero business rates for the first three years for new businesses.
  • Free car parking for main street business owners, and staff.
  • Increasing the free parking timing to 2 hours around the main street area to boost footfall.

120 years since first Laois County Council meeting

Councillor Pauline Madigan. who is a candidate in the upcoming Portlaoise municipal district elections, is reminding Laois people of the historical significance of the County Council this week.

Councillor Madigan stated: “As we move towards the local elections on Friday 24 May 2019, it is worth noting the significance of the month of April in the context of the history of local government.

“Monday April 22 2019 marked the 120th anniversary of the first meetings of Ireland’s county councils.

“On that day 120 years ago, county councils met in courthouses in each of the 33 local government counties of Ireland. I

“In Laois, the meeting took place on Saturday 22 April in the Grand Jury Room of Maryborough Courthouse in Portlaoise. Historical archives show that the meeting started at 11.30am,” said cllr Madigan.

All thirty-one members present at the first meeting were men. In the Council Chamber in 2019 there nineteen councillors in total – five women and fourteen men.

The members of the councils had been elected earlier in April in elections which saw the franchise extended for the first time to people who owned a minimum of property.

“Prior to that local government had been in the hands of the Grand Juries – an elite body appointed by the crown’s representatives in each county, and the Poor Law Guardians who had been set up to deal with the poverty of the years before the Famine.

“The guardians had proved effective in many ways but their membership was restricted to those who owned substantial property.

“Possibly the greatest contribution of the new councils at the end of the 19th century was their dedication to the tasks of building and maintaining road, water and sanitary facilities; providing for the homeless and taking advantage of new powers to build public housing; and creating the genesis of technical education and agricultural instruction.

“The 120th anniversary of the county councils may have much less drama than the likes of George Clooney visiting Laois but in its own low-profile way the founding of the county councils 120 years ago is an event which we should never forget,” concluded Cllr Madigan.

SEE ALSO – €20,000 worth of drugs found in Portlaoise searches

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Siún Lennon joined LaoisToday in a full-time capacity after studying Journalism and New Media in the University of Limerick. She hails from Rosenallis and her interests vary from news, sports and politics.