NEWLY co-opted councillor Pauline Madigan (FF) made a passionate maiden speech in county hall yesterday (Monday), as she took over the seat left vacant by the passing of cllr Jerry Lodge last April.
In a council chamber packed with family and supporters, cllr Madigan said every person she met since her selection reminded her that she had “very big shoes to fill” but she felt ready for the challenge.
She said: “I was told that everyone in this building was in tears the day they heard about Jerry’s passing. History tells us that we stand on the shoulders of great men and Jerry Lodge was clearly one of those men.”
A native of Limerick who has lived in Portlaoise for the past 21 years, cllr Madigan thanked her husband Gerry Flanagan and their children Meghan (22), 20-year-old Frank and Paul (14) for their invaluable support as she sets out on her political career. She takes over a seat on both Laois County Council and Portlaoise Municipal District and also works as a lecturer in public relations, public affairs and sports sponsorship at Carlow Institute of Technology.
Acknowledging that her co-option was “controversial to say the least” and that she had no “political dynasty” behind her, cllr Madigan contended that “a blend of old and new” would work well on the council. She said: “Although I adore Limerick, I also love where I live and I love Laois. I will work hard for the people of Laois and I will never, ever take this seat for granted. I have not won anything, but I will hit the ground running to make sure that I am elected for Fianna Fáil in next year’s local elections.”
Cllr Madigan was warmly welcomed by chief executive John Mulholland, council officials and councillors of all political persuasions, before she was formally nominated to around ten council committees and bodies, including Portlaoise Enterprise Centre, Portlaoise Leisure Centre and the Laois Offaly Education and Training Board.