Alison Gilliland is elected new Lord Mayor of Dublin

Labour councillor elected unopposed with support expressed by parties outside voting pact

Labour’s Alison Gilliland is the new Lord Mayor of Dublin. Photograph: Lord Mayor of Dublin/Twitter

Labour’s Alison Gilliland is the new Lord Mayor of Dublin. Photograph: Lord Mayor of Dublin/Twitter

 

Labour councillor Alison Gilliland has been elected the 353rd Lord Mayor of Dublin, becoming only the 10th woman to hold the office.

Cllr Gilliland, the outgoing chair of Dublin City Council’s housing strategic policy committee, has taken over from the Green Party’s Hazel Chu, as part of the council voting pact between Labour, the Greens, Fianna Fáil and the Social Democrats.

The Dublin Agreement, made after the local elections in 2019, sees the four parties share power on Dublin City Council until the next poll in 2024.

In an unusual move, Cllr Gilliland was elected unopposed. Generally councillors of the opposition parties on the council propose candidates even though it is unlikely they will be elected.

However, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, the main parties outside the governing group, spoke of their support for Cllr Gilliland, as did Independents.

Labour councillor Mary Freehill nominated Alison Gilliland describing her as the second ever female Labour lord mayor after herself, forgetting former councillor Emer Costello who served as Lord Mayor in 2009. Ms Costello was at the event in the Mansion House on Monday night to see her husband Joe Costello appointed deputy Lord Mayor.

Cllr Gilliland, originally from Ballybay, Co Monaghan, has been a member of the Labour Party since 2009 and was elected to the council in 2014. A former primary school teacher, she is a full-time official with the INTO, is the union’s equality officer and ran for general secretary in 2018, coming second to John Boyle.

She thanked her fellow councillors for supporting her and paid tribute to outgoing mayor Cllr Chu and the outgoing deputy lord mayor, Social Democrat Mary Callaghan.

Cllr Gilliland said she would maintain a focus on the recovery of the city post-Covid-19, and on issues affecting women, minorities and “the LGBTQI+ community”.

She would also work to ensure public housing was provided on public lands in the city, with the housing issue being a particular weight bearing down on young people, she said. “We owe it to them to remove the black housing cloud constantly hanging over their heads.”

‘Hell of a year’

Cllr Chu spoke about the unprecedented year in which she had held the office of lord mayor.

“It’s been a hell of a year folks. It’s been really difficult, it’s been really challenging and we had so many losses of lives, of jobs, of homes,” she said. However, she added that “to say that it has been an honour and a privilege to be lord mayor this year is a bit of an understatement”.

Councillors of all parties commended Cllr Chu on her performance as mayor, with several making reference to the stand she took against the racism she had to contend with, particularly on social media, over the course of the year, which Labour councillor Dermot Lacey described as an “onslaught from the far-right”.

In addition to thanking councillors and staff, Cllr Chu thanked her family, particularly her mother.

“For a woman who came over here with one bag and worked as a cleaner and a dishwasher, I think she did really well to have a daughter as lord mayor.”