New council faces huge task in first full year as unified body

Cllr. Michael Fitzgerald, the first chairman of the amalgamated Tipperary County Council.
The forty councillors elected to the first unified Tipperary County Council had a massive responsibiity to make it work during their five year term in office, insists chairman Michael Fitzgerald.

The forty councillors elected to the first unified Tipperary County Council had a massive responsibiity to make it work during their five year term in office, insists chairman Michael Fitzgerald.

Reflecting on the first steps taken by the new amalgamated authority over the last six months, Cllr. Fitzgerald said it was a huge challenge and implementing the changes required would be a gradual process.

He acknowledged that the process was a difficult one, starting from a position where the two administrative hubs in Clonmel and Nenagh would have had no connection to one another.

“From a geographical and business point of view, people in Clonmel and Tipperary would have more of an attachment to Waterford and Limerick but the same applied for Nenagh. We are the one county and now we are all working together as a unified local authority and it is up tous all to make it work,” said Cllr.Fitzgerald.

He believes everybody has come a long way in coming to terms with the significant changes that were implemented.

The veteran Fine Gael representative, who was elected the first chairman of the new authority, said eveyrbody understood the sense of loss of the people in Clonmel Cashel on the closure of their civic offices, the loss of town councils in Clonmel,Tipperary,Cashel and Carrick the status such institutions gave to those towns and the pride people had in them but that the system was changed and they had to move on.

“There was a genuine loss of identity but we move forward now as one, it’s a harder job, a bigger job, to cater for the needs of people from the bridge in Carrick to the bridge in Portumna but that is the task we are now faced with,” he said.

One of his personal highlights as chairman came with thirty nine out of the forty councillors voted through the first budget of the new authority.“For a new authority to vote through a budget of €138 million in such a manner was a huge test and we passed that and this is a very positive step ” he said.