Fine Gael County Councillor Mary Sweeney has expressed her gratitude to the people of Laois and Laois County Council as she announced her retirement from politics after 22 years of public service.
Mary Sweeney, a native of Ballyroan, has been a county councillor for the Portlaoise Municipal District since 1999 and is the current Chairperson of Portlaoise Municipal District.
She was the first female Fine Gael Chairperson of Laois County Council (2013/2014) and a former Chairperson of Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board.
Announcing her decision today, Mary said it had been a huge privilege and a great honour to represent her community for the last 22 years.
“Without the support of the people of Ballyroan, Abbeyleix, Spink, Ballinakill, Raheen and Portlaoise, I would not have been able to carry out my work for these brilliant communities,” she said in a statement issued by Fine Gael HQ.
“Covid 19 has been incredibly difficult for everyone but it did provide me with the opportunity to reflect on a number of things and I feel now is the right time for me and my family to retire from active politics.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Fine Gael branch in Ballyroan who first proposed me to go forward for election in 1999, the Fine Gael party and its members, my fellow Fine Gael county councillors, past and present, and our local TD Charlie Flanagan and his office, all of whom I have had a tremendous working relationship with and have been hugely supportive of my decision.”
Ms Sweeney thanked her colleagues from all political parties and none on Laois County Council, who she said were excellent ambassadors for Laois when it comes to promoting economic and social prosperity for the county.
She continued: “It is very important to me, having been a staff member of Laois County Library service, that I acknowledge the unwavering support and dedication from the staff of Laois County Council during my time in County Hall and Portlaoise Library.
“They are the true representation of public service and my only regret is that I didn’t get to see them more often over the last 18 months due to the pandemic.
“Anyone who knows me knows how proud I feel to have been able to represent my village in Ballyroan.
“We have witnessed incredible progress over the last 22 years in our village, most notably the building of a new primary school and increased housing infrastructure, a legacy to last a generation. I want to particularly thank the people of Ballyroan for continuously supporting me through the years.
“Finally, we want to thank our family and our many close friends for all of their support during my time in political life.
“Conor, Aoife and I are blessed to have such wonderful and supportive people around us and we look forward to spending more time with them over the coming months and years.”
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar paid tribute to Mary Sweeney upon her retirement and thanked her for her hard work and public service over more than two decades.
“Cllr Sweeney is a kind and warm person. It was always nice to meet her whether in Dublin or in Laois.
“For over 20 years, she worked improving communities and services across Laois. On behalf of Fine Gael, I would like to thank her for the time, commitment, and energy she dedicated to the people of Laois.
“As a former librarian and Chairperson of the Laois/Offaly ETB, I know that Mary placed a great emphasis on the role of education for people of all ages as part of her Council work. She was instrumental in securing a new library for Portlaoise in the heart of the town, encouraging life-long educational and economic activity in the area.
“Mary will be missed greatly by the people of Laois, and I wish her all the very best in her retirement from public life.”
Laois Offaly TD Deputy Charlie Flanagan said, “I’m very sorry to learn that Cllr Mary Sweeney is stepping down. Mary has been a great friend and loyal colleague for decades.
“As a member of Laois County Council since 1999, she has worked tirelessly prioritising many causes across Laois.
“Her outstanding work in the community was exemplified by her ‘Ballyroan first’ policy and her legacy is clear in the results she achieved across issues such as housing, education, water, services and village renewal.
“I would like to acknowledge the great support and assistance of Mary’s children Conor and Aoife, as well as the wider Scully family, in Mary’s many successful projects. I wish her every happiness and especially good health in the next phase of life.”