• Marie Casserly

    Streedagh Councillor still making political waves

    IT’S been a year of highs and lows so far for Independent County Councillor Marie Casserly. However this month will see her take the chains of office as Mayor of the Sligo Municipal District. She spoke to Grace Larkin about her first two years in politics and her plans for the year ahead:
    Marie Casserly made history in her native Grange when she became the first woman from the area to be elected to Sligo County Council in 2014. She will make history for a second time as the first person from the area to serve as Mayor of Sligo. Despite the fact that Grange has had three Cathoirleachs of the County Council, Eugene Gilbride, Willie Farrell, and Patsy Barry and Maugherow had Joe Leonard, owing to the reform of Local Government in 2014 which saw the abolition of Sligo Borough Council and the creation of two Municipal Districts, it will be the first time that a sitting councillor from Grange could serve as Mayor of Sligo.
    “It is an honour to represent the people of Sligo and I’m hoping to represent Sligo an awful lot more for the next year. I’m hoping to be very busy and to put Sligo on the map as much as possible,” said Cllr Casserly.

    “I feel that in Sligo and the North West there is a well of untapped potential. It’s a potential that can be harnessed with all the different agencies working together but there must be proper resources.

    “I welcome ideas, suggestions and thoughts on what can be done to make Sligo move towards a real and meaningful recovery. Throughout the course of the year I will be inviting members of the national Government to discuss issues relating to our towns and county recovery in conjunction with seeking contributions from everyone who calls Sligo home we are all stakeholders in our town and area all entitled to be heard,” she said.

    It’s been a busy two years since Cllr Casserly’s election. “I’ve got to know an awful lot more people and I’ve met some really good people along the way who are doing a lot of work behind the scenes. There’s a lot of hardship out there that nobody sees and that’s really opened my eyes to what’s going on. There is also a lot of positive work going on in relation to promoting Sligo and I’d hope to link in as many of the agencies as possible. Together we will move Sligo forward. Now with the Independent Alliance in the coalition Government I’m hoping that Sligo will be more on the radar in relation to Transport, Tourism and Sport and in relation to Education and the promotion of apprenticeships especially with Sligo IT, which is such a brilliant facility to have on our doorstep,” said Cllr Casserly.

    This year saw Cllr Casserly attempt to claim a Dail seat within the Independent Alliance. However, on this occasion it was not to be. “I thought it was an opportune time. I felt we haven’t had proper cabinet representation from Sligo over the last 30 years and I just felt that now was the time to go and try and make a difference and see if that was possible but unfortunately this time it didn’t work out. The constituency was a lot bigger it stretched into West Cavan, South Donegal. They were 18 candidates so it was a combination of things. I’m just two years as a politician this week as well. I’m not in it long enough I suppose. People decided to go with party lines. People are quite traditional still. I think that has to be respected too,” she said.
    Sligo Municipal District members decided to adapt the D’Hondt Method when selecting a Mayor. The system which is based on proportional representation meant “there weren’t any deals done, it was just on taking turns on the amount of votes you get and you can’t get any fairer than that.”
    So what lies ahead for Cllr Casserly’s term in office?

    “2017 is a big year for Sligo because we have been chosen out of a number of European cities as the European Capital for Volunteering. It’s a fantastic tribute to all the volunteering that does take place in Sligo. It’s been going on for years so it’s a just reward for all the work that is going on by the volunteers. I’m on the board of the Sligo Volunteer Centre and they are a fantastic board and they do great work in public and behind the scenes as well. That’s 2017 so I’ll still have six months as Mayor and I intend to promote Sligo more.” she said.
    Another area Marie intends to focus on is her work with charities. “I’d hope through different social media campaigns that I could promote charities as much as possible. They will have access to City Hall if they want to promote anything or to launch any event. I do a good bit of work with charities already so I know how hard it is for charities that are doing really worthwhile work to get money and attention as there are so many worthwhile charities out there so I’ll help and support anybody as much as possible.”
    One of her main aims is to see the establishment of an annual event to replace the Fleadh. “I’d be hoping to get a significant event for locals to enjoy because as we saw at the Fleadh it’s as much about entertainment and enjoyment for local people. I think there is a huge gap there and it’s waiting to be filled and to be exploited positively. People have enough problems, it’s nice to have an event to look forward to,” said Cllr Casserly.

    She also praised Sligo IT and St Angela’s for their wonderful role in making Sligo an educational centre of excellence and added that she hoped to assist in Sligo IT’s bid for University status in any way she can.

    Although a busy year lies ahead, Cllr Casserly will relish her new role.
    “I’m really looking forward to the year. I’m on a career break and I hope to give as much time as possible and I’ll work as hard as I can for Sligo town and county. I think we have been bypassed for a lot of years and I will make no apologies whatsoever in looking for funding for projects. I don’t think we have had nearly enough of it. If we had some proper investment over the years we would be in a lot better position that we are. But having said that we have to work with what we have. But definitely I’m not going to be sitting on my laurels. I’ll certainly work as hard as I can for the county that I love.”

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