Sinn Féin Councillor Fintan Warfield has been elected Mayor of South County Dublin today.

In his maiden speech in the Council Chamber this afternoon Mayor Warfield said he takes great personal pride in becoming the youngest Mayor of a local authority as well as being an openly LGBT Mayor.

He set out three priorities for his term in office. They are;

  • To highlight the ongoing housing and homeless crisis in the county
  • To promote LGBT rights and in particular marriage equality and inclusive workplaces across the county
  • To promote practical solutions to the youth unemployment crisis

The full text of Mayor Warfield’s speech follows:

Is mór an onóir é dom a bheith anseo inniu.

It is a magnificent honour to be nominated and elected as the Mayor of South Dublin.

It is with even greater personal pride that I take on this role as the youngest Mayor of a local authority and in changing times, an openly LGBT Mayor.

I would like to congratulate Dermot Looney on a fantastic year in office.

I would also like to thank my party colleagues in Sinn Féin for their belief and support in myself over the last number of days in proposing me for this important position.

I would also like to thank the other members of the Progressive Alliance for supporting my candidacy.

If, in twelve months time, I can look back on my term, if I can honestly say that I have taken the Mayor’s role into the homes, communities and work places of those whom this office represents, then I will be a proud republican activist.

The local and European elections brought about significant political change.

After six years of social and economic crisis and seven harsh austerity budgets people have had enough.

Sinn Féin was returned as the largest party in South Dublin County Council and the largest party in Dublin City and County.

I am proud to have been part of that Sinn Féin team in this election.

With our new political strength there also comes a huge responsibility.

Those of us elected to this Council, from all parties, have a responsibility to work together to make life better for the people we represent.

I look forward to working with my Independent, Labour and Green Party colleagues in the Progressive Alliance.

I also want to work constructively with all councillors elected to deliver for the people of South Dublin.

I want to be a mayor for all of the people of this county. But in particular I want to be a voice for those who have been left out or left behind. I want to be a campaigning mayor – campaigning for change, for inclusion, for equality.

My priorities for the year will be;

  • To highlight the ongoing housing and homeless crisis in the county
  • To promote LGBT rights and in particular marriage equality and inclusive workplaces across the county
  • To promote practical solutions to the youth unemployment crisis

We are in the midst of the worst housing crisis in modern history. Almost 8,000 households across the county are on our waiting list. Almost 40 families are sleeping tonight in local hotels because they cannot afford the rent in private accommodation and the council is unable to house them.

Since 2008 Government funding for social housing has been cut by 90%.

The solution to the housing crisis is very simple – we need to build more social houses.

As Mayor I pledge to use my office to highlight this crisis. To put a human face on the suffering of thousands of families who do not have a home of their own.

I also pledge to promote meaningful solutions to this crisis.

Local government must be able to meet peoples housing need. We need to have the money to build and buy more social houses.

Our homeless services must have the funding required to support those without a home and to assist them to live independently.

South Dublin County Council has a positive record in terms of it’s delivery of social housing and has developed a number of innovative initiatives like the Applicant Sourced Homes scheme and Choice Based Lettings scheme which have become very successful and are currently being replicated throughout this state.

I want the incoming council to build on this success. No family should have to sleep night after night in a hotel. No young person should have to sleep rough on a cold winters night.

It is my belief that the office of Mayor should be a beacon of hope for those who feel invisible. I believe that Dublin should be a place for everyone.

As Mayor I want to make the connection with those people who do feel invisible.

Maybe it’s the girl with the funny name or unusual accent. Maybe it’s the boy who wants to wear make up in school. Maybe it’s the single mother struggling to make ends meet. Maybe it’s the unemployed man ashamed that he can’t put food on the table. Maybe it’s the older person who goes to the Square to keep warm or whom no one has visited in weeks.

These are the people who I as Mayor want to stand with.

Everyone should belong in Dublin; we are all better for having each other. Many within the LGBT community feel that Dublin, at times is not a place for them. Homophobia has pushed people into the corners of their lives, lives of isolation and poor self-image.

One of the most important events due to take place in the coming year is the marriage equality referendum. Today under law my relationships are not afforded the same value as those of others. I am not treated equally. This referendum will give our society the chance to say that we support equality. That it values all of our relationships. As Mayor I will work closely with those individuals and groups who want to make our society a fairer, more equal place.

South Dublin has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country.

Almost 30% of under 25’s are out of work. Many more are not in education or training. Every day hundreds of young people emigrate.

We need to give our young people hope – we need to offer them a real chance to live and make their home here.

Important work has been done by the council including the 2014 Jobs Strategy. However we must all do more.

During my year as Mayor I will engage with youth organizations, trade unions, business groups, employers and young people themselves to debate and promote practical solutions that will give young people hope.

I look forward to the months ahead in my new role, not just as a Sinn Féin Mayor but one for all of the people living in the county. I will endeavour to be fair as the Chairperson of Council meetings and provide everyone with equal time and opportunity, regardless of political orientation.

I want to state that we are very lucky in South Dublin County Council to have a flexible, professional, innovative and committed management team and workforce who have taken on huge challenges over the past number of years. They have done this without complaint and improved services in a number of areas along the way.

With this in mind I genuinely look forward to working closely with the manager and their team in the coming year.

While I as one individual don’t have the solutions to tackle every problem South Dublin encounters, together as elected representatives, staff and residents we have the knowledge and ability to make great progress in the coming year.

I am resolved to be relentlessly positive about our communities and to work hard with everyone to make our county and our city a place for everyone.

In the coming days, the proclamation of 1916 will hang proudly on the walls of the Mayor’s office.

That document includes the commitment to “cherish all the children of the nation equally”.

Tackling inequality and ensuring every single person has the opportunity and the means to live a full and happy life is the greatest challenge facing the leadership of our great city today.

I am up for that challenge and look forward to working with all of you to realize that vision.

Táim ag súil leis an obair atá os mo chomhair.