Outgoing Mayor Eugene Murphy received tributes from all parties in the council chamber as he performed his last duty, accepting the nomination for chairman and vice chairman of Roscommon County Council. In his address to the AGM he called for much needed changes to local government and spoke of past proposals by Noel Dempsey, which he said were quickly scorched. He also believes the constant back slapping must stop, and on a personal issue referred to the fact that 70% of his work has disappeared.
A short time later the former Council chairman took time out to speak to the Roscommon People about his term as Mayor of County Roscommon. “I look back with a great sense of comfort, joy, and enthusiasm, while I feel there is a lot of good out there in County Roscommon. I spoke today about the various community groups that entered into partnership with Roscommon County Council, the new tourist facility down in Ballinlough in the west of the county, Gortaganny, Frenchpark and many other areas throughout the county where communities and the council are working together. Right throughout my year, I made statements about the positives (in the county). We all know we have problems about the hospital, about jobs and it is only right that we have a fair share of the cake but sometimes the level of negativity concerns me,” he said.
“Genuinely there is so much good going on in the county and I like seeing that and I know the new Mayor will continue to promote County Roscommon and we can promote this as one of the best in the country. We have got the people, the ideas, and the facilities. We can be better than Galway, and we can be better than Kerry and remember I have a philosophy in life and that is you must believe in yourself. The council must believe it too as must the executive, in pushing this county forward and I have no doubt in that regard, and this county has a very positive future.”
As the tributes continued to flow from all corners of the council chamber, there was total agreement the outgoing Mayor remained impartial throughout his term as council chairman.
“I set out from day one to be very impartial in this job. I took no part in Fianna Fail politics throughout the year and this I had explained to my Fianna Fail colleagues on the basis that it is a huge honour to be placed in the position of Mayor and I believe you must act totally independent. I made very few political statements. I constantly kept the good of the county up there.”
However Councillor Murphy would be the first to admit he has a handful of regrets over certain issues that remain unresolved.
“There are some issues that I would like to see resolved such as the turf cutting issue and it is one I regret, even though I did some work behind the scenes. I would ask everybody to redouble their efforts to make this happen. I would like to see more progress on the Hospital scenario in relation to accident and emergency but we did manage to keep it on the agenda and I do believe the amount of pressure that we kept on, perhaps has been significant in developing some new services at the hospital.”
The former council chairman agrees with the new Mayor in relation to the marketing of the county at home and abroad.
“I am well aware of the fact there are so many people emigrating in this county and there aren’t many opportunities there. Nevertheless we are where we are, but we can move forward and make things better. I believe agriculture and tourism still offers huge opportunities in this county. From a marketing perspective there is a huge amount of lamb produced in Roscommon. I happened to be in London recently where I met some chefs from Covent Garden who were out one night and had never heard of Irish lamb.
“I just said to myself from a marketing perspective, someone is falling down. Here is an idea, let’s get in there, let’s get organised and have an evening with chefs in the middle of London saying:’ this is Roscommon lamb, it’s the best in the world, would you put it on your menu?’
“There are lots of opportunities and I will continue to push those through on the basis that I feel that we can drive forward, and if we have the right approach then we can make lots of progress for the county.”
It has been a busy eleven months but there is no doubt as to what is top of his immediate priority list. “I will move back more into the cut and trust of politics. However I think the first thing I must do is I have two children who have been sort of neglected in a way (he jokes), because they didn’t see Dad as much as they would like to have had.
“My first priority over the next few weeks is to the children and let politics take a back seat. I have a huge interest in the next general election and I make no secrete of that and I have a lot of reorganisation to do with Fianna Fail because certainly we are in a very difficult situation. We have a lot of bridge building to do with the public. Fianna Fail has a lot of work to do in that area and I intend to work closely with the party leader Micheal Martin on that issue.”
Issue dated: 29 June 2012
© Roscommon People