New Letterkenny mayor, Fianna Fáil Cllr. Dessie Larkin, wants to promote Letterkenny nationally and internationally in the coming year.
The new mayor presented his priorities at the Letterkenny Town Council AGM, where he succeeded Sinn Féin Cllr. Gerry McMonagle. Fianna Fáil Cllr. Victor Fisher was elected deputy mayor, succeeding Fine Gael Cllr. Jimmy Kavanagh.
Both councillors were unopposed.
Mayor Larkin said he will do everything in his power to see that Letterkenny retains its council, calling government proposals to do away with some town councils in coming years “a very backwards step”. Fianna Fáil Cllr. Tadhg Culbert said the council needed the support of Donegal Oireachtas members, and Mayor Larkin agreed to seek a meeting with them.
Mayor Larkin also wants to see Rockhill House, former Defence Forces barracks, developed as a county resource; he joined Paul Brown, Earagail Arts Festival director; members of the Defence Forces and other volunteers at a clean-up of Rockhill grounds on Saturday.
Also on his agenda are the creation of a new playground for children with disabilities and an outdoor basketball court; and to associate the town more closely with county council projects reaching the Donegal diaspora. He said he would like to hold civic receptions for Church of Ireland Rev. Canon Stewart Wright and for the Letterkenny Music and Drama Group.
Mayor Larkin was co-opted on to the town council 1998 and elected to the county council in 1999. He served as town council chairperson in 1999-2000 and mayor in 2004-2005. Fianna Fáil Cllr. Ciaran Brogan said Mayor Larkin held the town and the council “close to his heart”.
Speaking at the AGM, Cllr. McMonagle said the groups he visited this year had given him particular insight into the strength of volunteerism in Letterkenny. “The people of this town really show me the good that is in this town,” he said.
The town’s first Sinn Féin mayor also congratulated his colleagues for their power-sharing. “I certainly would hope it continues not just for this council but future councils,” he said.
Councillors praised the outgoing mayor’s contributions.
“You took an awful lot of pride in the role and that was very much evident,” Cllr. Kavanagh said. Cllr. Brogan said Cllr. McMonagle encouraged fair and open discussion and Fianna Fáil Cllr. Jim Lynch credited him for the many groups he brought to council, “groups finding it difficult to get a platform”.
New Donegal Mayor, Labour Cllr. Frank McBrearty Jr., has offered his congratulations to Mayor Larkin, and said he looked forward to working with him for the benefit of the people of Donegal.