There were warm tributes to Councillor Mary Sweeney at this morning’s monthly meeting of Laois County Council.
The Fine Gael Councillor announced her intention to bring her 22-year political career to an end in a statement yesterday.
She is still a Councillor – and it is hoped she will return to the chamber next month so she can be honoured in person before formally retiring.
But in her absence this morning in the Dunamaise Arts Centre, her fellow Councillors all spoke fondly of her.
Chief Executive John Mulholland said: “It was a big shock to the system to hear the news yesterday.
“Mary is a great friend to all of the Council staff and she will be dearly missed.
“Mary is a lady to her fingertips and she has a deep understanding of what it means to represent your county.”
Councillors John Joe Fennelly, Thomasina Connell, Caroline Dwane-Stanley, Paschal McEvoy, Noel Tuohy, Aisling Moran, Catherine Fitzgerald, Seamus McDonald, Aidan Mullins, PJ Kelly, Paddy Bracken, Ollie Clooney and Padraig Fleming all spoke about how Mary represented the village of Ballyroan excellently.
Cllr James Kelly said she always had ‘her finger on the pulse of the issues that mattered’ while Independent Councillor Ben Brennan added: “Mary is an honest and genuine lady.”
Cllr John King said: “She was a tremendous community Councillor.
“Loved a song and a dance, she was always very kind as Cathaoirleach too and invited fellow Councillors to Ballyroan whenever she could.
“The proof of a good Councillor is their ability to get re-elected, and that was something that Mary did on several occasions.
“I hope there will be a plaque put up in Ballyroan in honour of Mary.”
While party colleague Willie Aird said: “Mary was an absolute pleasure to work with over the last 22 years.
“She boxed above her weight and achieved many things for Ballyroan over the years.
“She had an in depth knowledge of all matters pertaining to the library, the VEC and LOETB.
“Mary loved the Council and loved representing people. I want to thank her for all of her work and wish her all the best for the future.”
Conor Bergin, Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, also thanked Mary and said that the Council intended to have a special presentation to Mary before she retires.