New Kilkenny Mayor’s agenda: Help for business, youth and mental health services as country reopens
Kilkenny’s new Mayor, Cllr Andrew McGuinness, has revealed plans top prioritise help for business, youth and local mental health services as he takes up the chains of office.
Mayor McGuinness is following in the footsteps of his father, the Fianna Fáil TD John and his grandfather Mick in having the honour of Mayor bestowed upon him. And he will continue to hold this position as well as the role of Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council until this Friday.
In his acceptance speech at City Hall, Cllr McGuinness made reference to the significance of the role to his family and the importance of the role historically to Kilkenny, but he insisted he is looking firmly to the future after such a turbulent period.
Accepting the chains of office Cllr McGuinness said: “Over the last 15 months we have all made great sacrifices professionally and within our own families. We watched with great sadness as families lost loved ones, businesses shut their doors and people lost their jobs. We entered a period of uncertainty that we have never witnessed before.
“But, with all of that, emerged an unbelievable strength within every community that has given hope and a sense of determination to not only fight our way out of this crisis but to come out of it better and stronger.
“There is a newfound determination to improve, to progress and to do better. You can see it within our business community as they reopen and welcome us back through their doors.
“There is a greater appreciation for what we have and a desire to build on it. As we emerge from one of the most difficult periods of our time, you can sense the excitement as we get closer to normality.
“It’s a new chapter for all of us and I believe this will be a year of positivity.
“Unfortunately, some people missed out on a lot more than others and it is our duty to do all we can to support them. Our local musicians for example, have been left behind in terms of proper Government supports, yet they continue to entertain us all from their own homes.
“I want to take this opportunity to once again call on Minister Catherine Martin to provide proper supports for working musicians who don’t sell tickets or have albums in the charts, but who entertain us in our local pubs, at our weddings and celebrations and who are only a phone call away when they are needed to perform for a local charity or worthy cause.
“They have been forgotten about and left without a clear plan. Many of them are my friends and I know they are suffering from mental health issues as a result of dealing with such uncertainty.
“Our publicans, who are only just starting to reopen, have endured the most difficult period in their existence and they too were left in limbo for far too long.
“I want to commend Anthony Morrissey and the Vintners for their efforts and as Mayor, I will stand with them in that campaign.
“Our young people have missed out on so much in terms of their social lives and their education, they too need our support. Mental Health is quickly emerging as the next big challenge after Covid and we need to be mindful of that and support our young people, in any way we can.
“The pandemic has also brought out the best in people. So many individuals and groups within our local communities have done extraordinary things to make such a difficult time a little easier for our elderly and most vulnerable.
“During my term as Chairman of Kilkenny County Council I have seen first hand the great deeds that have been carried out by exceptional people throughout our communities. It is my intention to acknowledge that good work over the next 12 months and to let those people know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
“As soon as restrictions are lifted, I will open the doors of this building and welcome individuals, community groups, sports organisations, charities and so on.
“I want the office of Mayor to be accessible to everyone.
“As I previously stated, I believe this will be a year of positivity and it has already started – this week we formally opened our new Skate Park and Riverside Garden, the start of an exciting new chapter for the development of Kilkenny City and a taste of great things yet to come as we gradually open the Abbey Quarter.
“Our vaccine programme locally hit a milestone with over 35,000 vaccines now delivered in Kilkenny and the level of Covid related hospitalisations is at its lowest level in over nine months.
“Kilkenny has done particularly well in terms of keeping our covid cases at one of the lowest levels in the country and the people of both City and County deserve great credit for that. We can finally see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
“I’m looking forward with optimism to the challenges that lie ahead, and I will do my utmost to carry out my duties as Mayor with professionalism, diligence, and a duty of care to the people of Kilkenny City,” Cllr McGuinness concluded.