A new era dawned for the peninsula yesterday as the first meeting of the Inishowen Municipal District was held in Carndonagh.
Independent Councillor Nicholas Crossan was deemed the first Cathaoirleach (chairperson) of Inishowen’s municipal district while Fianna Fail’s Paul Canning is the new Leas-Cathaoirleach (vice chairperson.)
The meeting was not without controversy however, as Sinn Fein’s Jack Murray claimed his party had been “excluded” from negotiations over the election of the Cathaoirleach.
He said he and fellow Sinn Fein councillor Albert Doherty felt “aggrieved.”
Councillor Murray, who was also put forward for the position of Cathaorleach by Colr. Albert Doherty, said a meeting had been held “with five minutes notice” between the parties and Sinn Fein couldn’t attend.
He said: “The first time I found out what was happening was 20 minutes before this meeting, when I made a phone call. I welcome Councillor Crossan but I have to say this.”
The other Councillors rejected Colr Murray’s claim the party had been excluded.
The meeting had been adjourned for 20 minutes yesterday for further negotiations to take place.
Colr. Crossan, who was elected by seven votes to two- the two being Colrs Murray and Doherty- said he was delighted with his new role.
Last week, Colr. Crossan, a former Buncrana Town Councillor, was named the Leas-Cathorlaigh of Donegal County Council in a cross party agreement.
He said it was an “honour” to represent the peninsula.
He added that a “lot of hard work” needed to be undertaken to ensure Inishowen “gets it’s fair share.”
“We need a strong, clear voice when we go to Lifford,” he said.
The Inishowen Municipal District is a new era for local government and gives the elected councillors greater responsibilities for their own local services and finances.
Yesterday, all Councillors agreed this would present a new challenge, particularly following the abolition of Buncrana Town Council.
Outgoing Inishowen Electoral Area committee chairperson Colr Martin Farren said the structure was a “new chapter for Inishowen.”
The Councillors will now meet each month, and every two months in County House, Lifford with their fellow Donegal County Councillors.
The former Inishowen Electoral area committee met every two months.
At yesterday’s meeting, the Councillors also expressed their concern over the future of Carndonagh Public Services Centre and the Buncrana Town Council offices and well as for the staff who are employed within them. Concerns were raised that at least two staff will be transferred from Carndonagh, while those based in Buncrana are as yet unaware of what the future holds.
They requested that Councillors be informed about any future decisions made about services within any of the two centres.
Also at yesterday’s meeting, tributes were paid to former Fine Gael County Councillor Mickey Doherty, who was not re-elected in last month’s elections.
His party colleague Colr. Bernard McGuinness said he would be a “great loss” to the Inishowen Municipal District.
They also welcomed former Buncrana Town manager John McLaughlin, who is the new director for the Inishowen Municipal District.
All councillors agreed to work closely together for the people of Inishowen.