Cllr Gerard Farrell accepting the hand of his predecessor Cllr Mark Casey
Fine Gael's Gerard Farrell is the new Cathaoirleach of Ballymahon Municipal District following a meeting held earlier this afternoon.
The Lanesboro publican assumed the chain from outgoing Cathaoirleach Cllr Mark Casey at the Municipal District's annual general meeting in Lanesboro Parish Hall.
Ironically however, Cllr Farrell required the support of Fianna Fáil members due to the absences of Fine Gael's Colm Murray and Paul Ross.
"This must be the first time Fianna Fáil nominated a Fine Gaeler (as Cathaoirleach) in the history of the council," joked a smirking Cllr Casey.
"There were years you (Fianna Fáil) didn't get a chair at all and now they are giving them away."
Cllr Farrell said the occasion was one which meant a great deal to him.
"It's a huge honour and a big day for me to be able to represent the south Longford area (as Cathaoirleach)," he said.
Words of appreciation were similarly directed towards Cllr Casey for his spell in the hot seat, a position he jokingly thought might not materialise when the Independent representative turned up a few minutes late.
As entertaining as it was, there was a more sincere side to proceedings as one by one elected members paid tribute to Cllr Casey as he made way for his Lanesboro based counterpart.
Cllr Mick Cahill said there was no denying Cllr Farrell had "big shoes to fill" in emulating the equitable and unbiased nature in which Cllr Casey conducted meetings over the past 12 months.
Director of Services Barbara Heslin echoed those sentiments, choosing to home in on Cllr Casey's hard work ethic and forward thinking persona.
Cllr Casey said he had taken great pleasure in representing the area as Cathaoirleach over the past 12 months, adding his one regret was the lack of financial muscle that are currently available to municipal districts.
"It's a pity we don't have a few more bob to go around because €57,000 doesn't stretch too far," he maintained.
For more on this story, see this week's Longford Leader.
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