Justine Dwyer

Two new female councillors took their seats at the table of Waterford City and
County Council to be ratified at the October plenary meeting in City Hall last
Cllr. Mairead Tobin (FF) steps into her father’s shoes, the late James Tobin,
who passed away recently, whilst Stephanie Keating (FF) takes over from Eddie
Mulligan who stepped down at the end of the summer.
It was something of a momentous occasion, pointed out Cllr. Mary Roche (Ind)
who said that female representation on the council was at an all time high of
18.7%, the most women ever to sit on the council at the same time.
Cllr. Tobin was proposed by Cllr. Tom Cronin who said he knew she would fill
the position with dignity and honour. “She has serious boots to fill. We left the
chair vacant, that he sat on so that Mairead would be sitting in her dad’s seat.
“All we can do is wish you the best of luck. Anything we can do to help, we are
only a phone call away.”
She was seconded by Cllr. Eamon Quinlan who said – “This is a combination of
a sad and happy day – sad because Cllr. James Tobin is no longer with us but
happy in that Mairead, who has been very involved in her community and
politics for many years now is stepping up to fill her dad’s seat.”
On taking her place in her dad’s seat, Cllr. Tobin said it was a bittersweet day
for her and her family. Mayor John O’Leary said – “It’s a great day for the Tobin
family, for Knockanore and Ballyhamlet. You will make a fine fine councillor.”
“This is a very special day for my family, but also a very emotional day. The
memories and strength of my dad and mam are very much with me in my
thoughts today as I accept this great honour. I would like to thank Tom and
Eamon for proposing and seconding me. I’d say dad is looking down and
smiling that his great friends have taken that honour and duty. I look forward
to the remainder of the term and carrying on the great work my dad did for
West Waterford and especially for the people of the Lismore electoral area.”
Cllr. Keating was proposed by Cllr Adam Wyse. He said he knew Stephanie for
15 years. “I went to school with her son. I think I’m the only person who can
say in this chamber that I’ve been on a sleepover in Stephanie’s house!”

He said he knew her first as a mother to her children, then as a lecturer at WIT
and now as a Fianna Fail member. “Now I’m very proud to know her as Cllr.
Stephanie Keating, a person who has given her life to Waterford whether
that’s by educating students in the college or setting up Williamstown
childcare centre or through her trojan work with Helping Hands.”
Metropolitan Mayor, Jason Murphy seconded the proposal. “I don’t think I had
a sleepover in Stephanie’s house but I certainly fell asleep there many times!”
He added that he felt Stephanie would represent all that is good about local
politics. “Her family are steeped in local politics and we have been great
friends for many years and while we disagree on some subjects, we agree on
much more. I think Stephanie would agree she is a bit more left of centre than
In response Cllr. Keating thanked her proposer and seconder for their kind
words and endorsement. “I would also like to pay tribute to the commitment
and tireless work of former Cllr. Eddie Mulligan who vacated this seat. I wish
him and his family all the best in the new chapter of their lives.”
She continued that having been raised in a family where a deep love of
Waterford, participation in the community and active citizenship were the core
values, it was an honour to be sitting in the council chamber as one of the
Fianna Fail councillors on Waterford Council.
“My late father Denis Keating was very active in Fianna Fail for many years. At
a very young age this started my interest in election counts, tallies, etc. He
served his community in many ways, all in a voluntary capacity, as a peace
commissioner, a member of the harbour board and a director of Waterford
Cllr. Keating continued that her late mother Hannah was way ahead of her
time regarding issues such as women’s health and supporting the wellbeing of
families living in difficult situations.
“My mother was the most non-judgemental person I ever came across. She
had time for everyone and everyone had time for her. A mix of these traits
were passed down to myself and my five siblings.”
She said she felt an incredible sense of honour being seated at the council
table. “I am humbled by the well wishes I have received and grateful to be
supported by my siblings, my children, cousins, friends and members of the FF

Cllr. Keating concluded by saying she would work hard in the role. “I hope my
own life experience, my involvement in the community and my role as a
lecturer will enable me to contribute in a positive way and to the lives of the
people of Waterford.”

Cllr. Stephanie Keating with family Members. Photo: John Power

Cllr Stephanie Keating and Cllr Mairead Tobin with Mayor John O’Leary.