The election this week of Kilmacow brothers as Mayor of Waterford and Chairman of Kilkenny County Council has given rise to hopes for a new era of warmer relations and neighbourly cooperation between the two counties.
Within hours of Tomas Breathnach’s elevation in Kilkenny on Monday afternoon, Jack Walsh became Waterford’s new Mayor. Both are Labour Party Councillors.
Elected by 11 votes to 4 (for Davy Walsh of The Workers Party) under the terms of a pact between Fine Gael, Labour and Independent members of the City Council, Jack succeeds Mary O’Halloran, the city’s first ever woman Mayor.
He is the first Kilkenny Mayor of Waterford since James Aylward from Mullinavat held the position in 1950/51, having previously been in the post from 1936 to 1941.
Married to Vera Higgins from East Cork, Jack is father of Nina and Lynn and works with Waterford Area Partnership in Monitoring, Evaluation and Research, having been previously employed as an Engineering Manager with Eircom up to 2001. Immersed in trade union activity all his adult life, he is a former President of the Waterford Trades Council.
Younger by six years, Tomas, deeply involved in community organisations through the decades, also has close links with Waterford in that he is a teacher at Mount Sion Secondary School and is married to Carol Power from Newport Square. They too have two daughters, Maeve and Eimear.
Under the terms of a pact involving Fine Gael, Labour and Green Councillor Malcolm Noonan, Tomas was elected by 16 votes to 8 (with an agreed pairing).
A third brother, Joe, is a former Kilkenny County Council Chairman, having held the post in 1996/97. All three were in attendance at both elections.
Mary back as Deputy Mayor
Jack was proposed and seconded by party colleagues Pat Hayes and Seamus Ryan. Davy Walsh was proposed and seconded by Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane and Joe Kelly and he received the added support of John Halligan who recently quit The Workers Party.
The outgoing Mayor, Councillor Mary O’Halloran was returned by 10 votes to 5 as the new Deputy Mayor, with the same support, bar Tom Murphy, as that behind Jack Walsh. Fianna Fail’s only Council member voted for Joe Kelly who was proposed by Cllr. Walsh and seconded by Cllr. Cullinane and also received the backing of Cllr. Halligan.