Fianna Fail Stalwart Challenged by Independent Member
The longest serving Athlone councillor, this week, took up the position of Mayor of the town for the 2018/19 year, and will be Mayor leading up to the local elections next May.
Mayor Frankie Keena, who has been a Fianna Fail councillor since 1995, was proposed and seconded by Fine Gael members, John Dolan and Tom Farrell, respectively. He was supported also by his Fianna Fail colleague, outgoing Mayor, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke. Mayor Keena was previously first citizen of Athlone in 1999 and 2014.
The Athlone Mayoral election had another candidate, Cllr. Ailish McManus, (Independent) who was proposed by fellow Independent, Cllr. Michael O’Brien, and seconded by Sinn Fein’s Cllr. Paul Hogan.
“In the interests of Team Athlone, I propose Cllr. McManus,” said Cllr. O’Brien.
“We haven’t had many female Mayors of the council, and the last one was former councillor Gabrielle McFadden, (2013) and before that was Sheila Buckley-Byrne, (2010) and it was many years before that there was Mary O’Rourke (1986) as Cathaoirleach,” said Cllr. Hogan.
However the Fine Gael/Fianna Fail alliance held and continued to run Athlone Municipal District council, as it has done since 2014. The four councillors voted for Cllr. Keena as Mayor and Cllrs Hogan, McManus and O’Brien voted for Cllr. McManus.
Cllr. McManus called the situation “disingenuous,” but gave best wishes to Mayor Keena for the coming year, writes David Flynn.
Mayor Frankie Keena was co-opted to Athlone Urban District Council in 1995, following the death of Senator Sean Fallon. In 1999, Cllr. Keena won a seat to Athlone UDC, and held the role until the 2004 elections, when he lost his seat, in Athlone Town Council (formerly UDC) but won a seat on Westmeath County Council on the same day. He was re-elected to the county council in the 2009 elections, and when the council changed again in 2014, Cllr. Keena was simultaneously elected to the county council and the new Athlone Municipal District.
Cllr. Ailish McManus was co-opted to Westmeath County Council and Athlone Municipal District in 2016, following the election of former councillor Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran to Dail Eireann.
The Fine Gael councillors also proposed and seconded Fianna Fail’s Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke as Deputy Mayor, and he was supported by Mayor Keena.