Kilbeggan businessman Paul Daly was co-opted to Westmeath County Council at the body"s June meeting on Monday last, filling the vacancy left by his 'very good friend' and mentor, the late Cllr. Tom Cowley.
The Fianna Fáil man - whose nomination was ratified at convention level on Thursday night last - said that it was a 'great honour' for him to have a number of his very close family and friends witness him accepting the Council seat.
Cllr. Daly, a son of Sean and Mary Daly, comes from a farming background and a family highly respected in the Kilbeggan area. The current acting chairman of the Kilbeggan Races" Race Committee, a former teacher and Gaelic footballer and a dedicated member of the local GAA scene, Cllr. Daly is no stranger to serving his local community, and is now gets opportunity to exercise his talents in an official capacity.
'I have an enormous job ahead of me to fill the shoes of Tom in the Kilbeggan area,' Cllr. Daly told the meeting after his co-option. 'He was such a dedicated, thorough, intelligent and skilful worker. He dedicated all of his time to the pursuit of betterment in the area.
'It will be a big help to me that having worked so closely with Tom over the past number of years, I will be able to call on some of his many great attributes which I, along with your good selves, have witnessed first hand in operation so often and to such great effect during Tom"s long, fruitful and very successful time as a public representative for the Kilbeggan area.'
Cllr. Daly said that he had hoped to have the late Mr. Cowley"s wife Cellie there for his inaugural meeting. 'But she is unable to attend on what must be a very sad day for her,' he remarked.
The Kilbeggan man was proposed for his seat Fianna Fáil"s Cllr. Kieran Molloy (Athlone) and Cllr. Robert Troy. Cllr. Molloy said that it gave him 'great pleasure' to nominate such a highly respect businessman who has been 'very active in the Kilbeggan area' throughout his life.
Seconding the proposal, Cllr. Troy said that he was 'delighted to see Cllr. Cowley"s will being adhered to', and described Cllr. Daly as a 'hard-working, efficient and diligent worker'.
New Council chairman, Cllr. Joe Whelan (Fine Gael) extended his congratulations to the new member, while Cllr. Mark Nugent (Labour) led the tributes from his Kilbeggan area colleagues. 'Paul has a very hard act to follow, but he had a lot of mentoring from Tom Cowley, and he will make a very good councillor,' Cllr. Nugent said. He also received endorsements from Fine Gael Kilbeggan area councillors Joe Flanagan and Michael Newman, the latter a neighbour of his.
Cllr. Daly said that he had a 'great love and passion' for his native area, and said that his priorities as a councillor will include assisting small to medium sized business in the area, the promotion of agriculture, improving education and roads.
'Agriculture has always been the life-blood of the area and I want to ensure its success in whatever way I can,' he said.
'I was lucky to have been educated at Kilbeggan Convent Secondary School, and indeed was a member of the teaching staff there for some time.
'I pledge to do all I can to help these educational institutions develop and grow even more into the future. I am very aware of the importance of good education in our society; our future is based on good education, and it is an area for which I have great passion.'
Cllr. Daly was also nominated to take up a seat on the Midland Regional Authority, proposed by his party colleagues, Cllrs. Jim Bourke and Frankie Keena.