The Fine Gael seat left vacant on Longford County Council by the sudden death of Cllr Paddy Belton has been returned to the people of Kenagh.
26-year-old Colm Murray was elected to the local authority following a Fine Gael convention in Abbeyshrule on Monday night, which saw the newly elected councillor emerge victorious after a hotly contested battle with party stalwarts Kevin Canavan and Jimmy O’Meara.
“Paddy Belton was a great Kenagh man and a great Longford man,” Cllr Murray told the Leader following his political victory. “He had a word for everyone and was decent and honest. I will not stand here and promise the sun, moon and stars, but what I will promise you, is that I will work hard for you and for anyone who seeks my help.”
The AIT lecturer is credited with establishing a Young Fine Gael branch in Limerick while studying at UL in 2001, and is a well known and respected community activist in the south Longford area. “I have a close relationship with the Beltons and worked with Paddy for the past nine years,” Cllr Murray continued. “It is great to keep the representation in Kenagh and there are certainly a number of key issues that I will be addressing.”
The new public representative believes that Co Longford is oozing economic and tourism potential - however, the downturn has brought its own set of problems. “The county is struggling - shops have closed in Longford town and while Ballymahon is doing okay, I would like to see Longford on the same par as Carrick-on-Shannon,” he added. “We need to utilize what we have; we have a county that is rich in heritage and we need to advertise it more. The county boasts some of the best fishing facilities in the country as well. I remain hopeful for the future of rural Ireland, and I believe I am a young and progressive public representative that can make a difference.”
Louis Belton - the late Cllr Paddy Belton’s brother - then spoke to the crowd gathered. “Tonight is a hard occasion for me and all three candidates before us have been great party supporters,” he said, adding that he was very glad that “Colm won through for Kenagh”.