SUZANNE Doyle (50) from Kildare town is to be the next Cathaoirleach (chairperson) of Kildare County Council after a seamless selection at the first meeting of the 2019-24 body in Áras Devoy on Friday afternoon (June 7).
In a mirror of the national Confidence and Supply Agreement, the honour went to the political party with the biggest representation – Fianna Fáil, with 12 councillors – and Cllr Doyle was nominated by her party colleague Darragh Fitzpatrick, and seconded respectfully by Cllr Mark Stafford from Fine Gael.
She will be assisted in her formalities by Father of the House Seamie Moore (80) from Naas who was chosen as leas-Cathaoirleach (vice-Chair) for the next 12 months.
“I arrived in here green as grass, thinking I’d change the world,” said Cllr Doyle, who first came to the Chamber 16 years ago, co-opted into Sean O’Fearghaill’s seat after the abolition of the dual mandate.
She name-checked the late Jim Keane, John O’Neill, Fiona O’Loughlin and Fionnuala Dukes as mentors she learnt from in her time as a councillor.
“I was shown you can build friendships and can do so much,” she said, stressing the importance of collegiality across party lines.
She also referred to her growing up in the family business –The Five Jockeys pub in Kildare – and how her mother was “an unpaid councillor, filling in forms for customers who may have had too much to drink”.
She also referred to the challenges ahead.
“We have found ourselves hampered by regulations, what we can’t do. If we do the job well we won’t be noticed. We’re only noticed when we get it wrong,” she pointed out.
“The biggest challenge is fighting systems that is creating obstacles…I will reach out to everybody and aim for collegiality,” she declared.
“I’m built like a tank, and often act like a tank,” she warned the meeting with a smile.
Outgoing Chair Cllr Robert Power was first to congratulate Cllr Doyle.
“By any standard you’ve deserved the right to sit in that chair, not just on service but on merit,” he said.
“I’m filled with great hope for the next five years,” he added.
Cllr Brendan Weld (FG) offered the first of cross-party congratulations, saying: “Mayor, can I pledge the support of the Fine Gael group”.
“This was a very wise choice by the Supply and Confidence group, there’s respect and fairness in it” said Cllr Mark Wall from Labour.
Cllr Vincent P. Martin (GP) congratulated Kildare’s “first citizen”, declaring: “It’s a red letter day for you. I wish it was a green letter day, but we didn’t get the numbers!”
Cllr Doyle describes herself as an “accidental politician” who had a background in advertising before opening up her own business – a crèche in Rathangan.
“I hope to do something different this time. People didn’t elect us for rhetoric, we have to find things we can change. I mean, we were able to turn a church into a library [in Athy] in the [lifetime] last council,” she said, as an example of what can be done.
“I don’t want ot be overly ambitious, but we’ll see how it goes,” she added