Independent Granard Town Councillor Tommy Stokes has pulled out of next month’s local election race, the Leader can reveal.
The popular north Longford businessman announced his decision at the weekend, citing financial commitments as the main reason for the move.
In an interview with the Leader on Saturday, a visibly emotional Cllr Stokes fought back tears as he thanked his family, friends and constituents for their support over the past 15 years.
“My wife Lena and my sons and daughters have been just brilliant. Without them I could never have done it,” he said.
First elected to Granard Town Council in 1999, Cllr Stokes made headlines both locally and nationally in being the first settled member of the Travelling community to be elected at local authority level.
More than a decade and a half on, it’s an achievement he still holds dearly.
“It might not mean much to some people, but I take great pride in that and so do my family,” he confided.
The same could also be said for the three different occasions (2002-03, 06-07 and 09-10) he represented Granard as Mayor.
“They were great memories and I will never forget them,” he added.
Cllr Stokes had been planning to run in the 2014 local elections.
But after opening his new business, QuickFix Tyres in Granard just six months ago, the likelihood of realising those ambitions started to slip away.
“I got 330-340 votes for the county the last time (2004) and that was with no more than 20 per cent of canvassing done. I am just sorry for all those people who voted for me and supported me over the years that I can’t go for it again.”
He says there were many highlights over the years including seeing a state of the art new fire station coming to Granard and representing the town in the 2006 St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York were just some.
“They were great days,” he said. “And while I’m gutted to be walking away, rest assured you haven’t heard the last of Tommy Stokes just yet.”