Athlone's new Mayor Cllr Jim Henson.
Labour's Cllr Jim Henson was elected Mayor of Athlone at Monday evening's AGM of Athlone Town Council, taking over from Cllr Shaw, who described as a diligent Mayor who had been impartial in the council chamber.
Independent Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne proposed Cllr Henson for the role of Mayor, saying he had served ably in his year as deputy mayor and she thought he would follow on into office and serve the town of Athlone well.
Cllr Mark Cooney (FG) supported this proposal and said he thought Cllr Henson would do a fine job as mayor.
There were no other nominations and in his last job as mayor, Cllr Shaw declared Cllr Henson as the new mayor.
Cllr Henson thanked the councillors for electing him and said it was a huge honour for him to become mayor. He said anyone who had held the job previously had held it in very high esteem and said the chain which he now wore around his neck was a very distinguished place to have your name. He said he was the first person from Garrycastle to be mayor of the town and mentioned the late John Keenan, who was the last person from the Labour party to chair meetings of the Athlone council.
Pointing out that he had entered politics as a community candidate, he said as mayor he hoped to encourage sharing of resources between community organisations that had already been put in place and said Athlone had an advantage over most towns in the number of community initiatives it has.
Mayor Henson said there had previously been a CE Scheme, known as the Home Comforts scheme. He said only two elements of the scheme remained - the Heating for the Elderly and Helplink South - and over the next 12 months he would like to see this scheme put back in place, pointing out that there are plenty of young people who are out of work, who would like to be working.
The new mayor added that he was aware of how important businesses were for Athlone and said he would like to see one body representing all businesses and industry, rather than seven or eight different ones and the council should support the business community to help get us all through the recession.
There were tributes and best wishes from all parties on the council to Cllr Henson.
County Manager Danny McLoughlin said Mayor Henson will have the full support of the council executive and he hoped they could realise some of his ambitions.
Cllr Mark Cooney proposed his party colleague Cllr Gabrielle McFadden as deputy mayor, saying it was a privilege for him to do so and said while she had been elected at the last local election the McFadden family had a long association with the council, with her sister having served as deputy mayor and her father as chairman of the council.
Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne supported the proposal, saying Cllr McFadden would bring her experience as deputy chair of the county council with her and said she knew she would be of great assistance to Cllr Henson as mayor.