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Holland thanks all for support during her Mayorship

24 June, 2016 - by Sarah Holland

Sinn Féin Cllr and now former Mayor of South Dublin County Council Sarah Holland spoke today in her last appearance in the office to thank all those who made her Mayorship both a success and a pleasure.

Cllr Holland said:

“A dhaoine uaisle, fáilte róimh go dtí an ócáid speisialta seo – this will be the new Mayors most oft used phrase.

“Fellow councillors, county officials, friends, comrades – it has been a huge honour for me as a working class woman from West Belfast to represent South Dublin County as first citizen, especially during this historic centenary year.

“I have never felt so proud to be a Republican.  This council facilitated a huge number of events and we commemorated one of the most radical and progressive events of our nation’s history in a dignified and fully inclusive way.  Republicanism was examined and celebrated and a new generation of children learned about the sacrifices which were made for us and the blows which were struck for our freedom.  The role women played was hidden in the past and we blew the cobwebs off the dusty revisionism and shone a light on these radical, brave women who blazed a trail for us.  Cllr Francis Noel Duffy did this beautifully in his stunning exhibition in Ballyroan library.  Delighted to have someone of his ability as a constituency colleague.

“They also learned about the Proclamation, and made their own minds up about whether all of those ideals exist.  I was particularly struck by Comhairle Na nÓg, who in their event, noted that we as a society had much more work to do before we could claim that we cherish all of the children of this nation equally. 

“On the day the results of the Brexit results come out, I note that the 6 counties voted to remain in the EU and I believe that the only way that mandate can be respected is to start making plans to allow them to vote to join the 26 counties if they so wish.

“A key part of our events was community participation.  One of our strengths as a country is our people.  We live in a diverse and multi-cultural society where equal rights and opportunities as laid out in the Proclamation are still not available to all. 

“The overall theme of my Mayorship was social inclusion, and I am proud to say we live in one of the most progressive local authority areas in Ireland.  Our social inclusion and community teams are tireless in their efforts to make sure that every citizen has an opportunity to be included in civic life here in South Dublin County.

“High points for me included attending the Street League finals, the Bealtaine festival, the health and wellbeing program, the schools cross country tournament, engineers week, social inclusion week, having Terry from St John of God on Job Shadow day, attending Filipino Independence Day, the Ahmadiyyah annual meeting and ladies dinner, Kannada Rajyotsava, Diwali and the launch of the Tallaght Roma Integration Project report.  My motion making Job Shadow a permanent feature of the Mayorship was passed unanimously, so every Mayor can benefit from this going forward.  Special mention here goes to Cllr Vicky Casserley who quietly and tirelessly works to make sure that all citizens including those with different abilities are included in civic life, and she was instrumental in making sure that there was a new Paralympic section added to the schools cross country tournament among other achievements.

“I cannot thank the community team enough – the work they do behind the scenes here is second to none - their hearts and minds are open and this makes a huge difference to our citizens although it may not be obvious – I publicly thank them here.

“This Mayorship also brought visitors from Tampa – we were delighted to receive a delegation from Tampa, Florida and our Chamber was instrumental in organising a reciprocal visit within 8 months.  This blossoming relationship will be of mutual benefit to us from a business, tourism, educational perspective and widens our horizons as a county.  We want to make this the best place in Ireland to live, work and do business and have made huge leaps forward in this regard with high profile tenants moving into our business parks providing employment and rates revenue to the people of this county. 

“I was proud to lead that delegation as Mayor and very proud to have my fellow female councillors with me Cllr Emer Higgins and Cllr Pamela Kearns.  Those ladies know how to work a room - the women who represent the people of this county are trailblazers one and all and we can represent.  We bring a lot to this table and that needs to be celebrated.  By and large, the women in this room are true feminists who support each other (special mention to Cllr Breeda Bonner) hon the sisterhood.

“Cllr Louise Dunne in particular fought hard for an allocation for a new women’s shelter and inspires me daily with her work on highlighting domestic violence.  I was also humbled by the Magdalene women and forced adoptees.  Every public representative needs to hear their stories and I was grateful to Cllrs Dermot Richardson, Nicky Coules and Charlie O’Connor for taking the time to spend an afternoon listening.  This is an injustice perpetrated on women and their children in our lifetime and we cannot allow that to be swept under the carpet.  I’ll say it once more while I have this platform – the Magdalene women did nothing wrong and sex and reproduction are not sinful but a natural part of our existence which should never have been criminalised or suppressed.  Trust women to make our own decisions and that includes having bodily autonomy.  I call on the Government to initiate a referendum and let the people decide on Repealing the 8th amendment.

“Our incoming Mayor has a wealth of experience and is a tireless advocate for his community and will do the same for people all over this county.  I tried to keep the office of Mayor as accessible to the people as possible.  No event was too big or too small and this was made easy by the fact that we have the warmest and most welcoming communities in Ireland here in this county.  I know Guss will do the same because he is a warm and open hearted and open minded man himself.

“All that remains is to sincerely thank everyone who made this year an incredibly positive experience – my fellow councillors, council staff and every man, woman and child I met along the way. I also want to thank the management team, the communications unit especially Elaine Leech, Marie and Cathy who made my job much easier and it was a pleasure working with them for the year.  I also want to thank Tom who has been a rock of support, and the area chairs, Cllrs Francis Timmons, Guss O’Connell, Deirdre O’Donovan and Cathal King.

“The memories will stay with me - I have loved this job.  Biggest thanks go to my daughter Gracie who has had to put up with a very busy working Mam and has accompanied me to a lot of events providing photographic assistance and moral support and to Jimbo, who patiently ferried me around and was a rock of support.” 

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