Home Politics Local Elections Laois’s longest serving politician elected new Cathaoirleach of County Council

Laois’s longest serving politician elected new Cathaoirleach of County Council

Willie Aird

Fine Gael’s Willie Aird has been elected as Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council at the AGM this afternoon.

The Portlaoise native, who has spent 40 years in politics in Laois was elected in the chamber moments ago.

He has been a Councillor since 1985 and shares the accolade of having amassed the greatest number of years with Fianna Fail’s Seamus McDonald – however, his stint on Portlaoise Town Council before that as a teenager puts him ahead.

All Laois County councillors were present for the vote apart from Noel Tuohy.

Cllr Aird was proposed as Cathoirleach by fellow Fine Gael cllrs Mary Sweeney and Thomasina Connell.

Independent Councillor Ben Brennan proposed fellow independent cllr James Kelly, which was seconded by cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley.

Aird was elected 14 votes to four to become the new Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council.

Cllrs John Joe Fennelly (FF), Catherine Fitzgerald (FF), Mary Sweeney (FG), Thomasina Connell (FG), Padraig Fleming (FF),
Tom Mulhall (FG), Paschal McEvoy (FF), Aisling Moran (FG),
Paddy Bracken (FF), Seamus McDonald (FF), Conor Bergin (FG)
John King (FG) and Ollie Clooney (Ind) all voted for Willie Aird for Cathaoirleach.

Willie Aird was a Portlaoise Town Councillor in 1979 at the age of 18 and was subsequently elected to the Council itself for the first time in 1985.

He steadily grew his support over the last 34 years and topped the poll for the fourth successive election a couple of weeks ago. 

Willie has previously held the role of chairman in 2004 and served as vice-chairman to Padraig Fleming in 2017-18.

Aird’s election comes about as a result of the renewal of the 2014 arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail which will see them control the Council for the next five years.

The past five years saw John Joe Fennelly (FF), Catherine Fitzgerald (FF), Tom Mulhall (FG), Padraig Fleming (FF) and John King (FG) hold the role of chair as it altered from one party to the next.

Fianna Fáil councillor John Joe Fennelly was voted in as vice-chairperson, on the same result of 14-4.

Tributes were paid to outgoing Cathaoirleach, John King, on his role as Cathaoirleach over the past year.

And LaoisToday understands that Tom Mulhall (FG), Mary Sweeney (FG), Paschal McEvoy (FF) and Catherine Fitzgerald (FF) will hold the role in the years after Aird.

SEE ALSO – Long-serving Laois school principal reflects on his 40-year teaching career as he gets set to retire

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.