Laois County Council is set to get a new councillor following the decision of the Labour party locally to select a replacement for Noel Tuohy.
Tuohy had been a councillor for the Portlaoise Municipal District since his election in 2014 but announced late last year that he was retiring from the role on health grounds.
A meeting of party members in Laois this evening in the Midlands Park Hotel decided to back Noel’s wife Marie to take on the role – and she will be officially co-opted at the February meeting of the council later this month.
Married for 43 years, Marie has been by Noel’s side throughout his political career, taking an active role in his election campaigns, and in the background in an administrative and advisory capacity.
Though a native of Clonaslee, she has been living in Portlaoise for over four decades where her family are immersed in local life.
A well-known and competent individual in her own right, Marie will be familiar to many families in the Portlaoise area due to her work in the Portlaoise Leisure Centre over the years.
The local Labour decision will now be notified to headquarters before she officially becomes a councillor next month.
It’s unclear yet whether Marie intends to contest the next local elections, which are now just 15 months away and scheduled to take place in May 2024.
Noel was elected to Laois County Council in his first attempt in 2014 when he defied the national trend in 2014.
The party were at an all-time low nationally and Tuohy was the only new Labour candidate elected to a local council in the entire country.
On that occasion he polled 685 votes and he was re-elected to his seat with an increased first preference vote of 1,041 in 2019.
Marie’s co-option means that the number of women in Laois County Council will return to five, alongside Caroline Dwane-Stanley (Sinn Féin), Catherine Fitzgerald (Fianna Fáil) and Fine Gael duo Thomasina Connell and Aisling Moran.
Fine Gael’s Mary Sweeney was elected in 2019 though was replaced by Barry Walsh last year following her decision to step down.