Tuesday was a historic day in Irish politics as Councillor Ian McGarvey, Ireland’s oldest politician, formally retired.
The 92-year-old Ramelton representative was in his usual fighting form for his last meeting of the Letterkenny-Milford Municipal District.
Councillor Ian McGarvey is Ireland’s oldest county councillor, and Mayor Donal ‘Mandy’ Kelly said could well be one of the world’s oldest politicians. Ian was first elected to Donegal County Council as an Independent in 2004 at 73 years young.
Tributes were paid from Cllr McGarvey’s fellow elected colleagues and the executive, who hailed his tenacity, his determination to speak up for people in need, and his fantastic representation of Donegal abroad.
Reflecting on his political career, Ian said his principles were guided by “never ignoring anybody” and a “desire to do something to provide a better way of life”.
“It’s a pleasure to have served on the council,” he said.
“It never was about me but about the people I went out to represent.”
After 18 years in the council, Cllr McGarvey now passes the mantle onto his nephew, Pauric McGarvey, who will be formally co-opted to the council next month.
Pauric watched on as Cllr McGarvey raised his last three motions.
The first requested that Donegal County Council retains shared delivery of water and wastewater services in Donegal. Cllr McGarvey expressed his fears of Irish Water taking full control of water service operations from June 2023. He criticised the company’s “astronomical” connection fees and “poor attitude” towards property owners. As the promotor of a group water scheme himself, Cllr McGarvey spoke on behalf of all group water scheme members and questioned what will happen to the approx 40,000 people in such schemes after the council and Irish Water “divorce”.
Cllr McGarvey’s second motion called on the council to draw up a programme to deal with the housing need in the area, saying that the needs of Letterkenny alone will reach over 4,500 in the future.
The third motion of today gave a voice to people in need of health treatments. He asked the MD to seek a programme to be set up to assist patients on waiting lists for long periods to avail of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) and Cross Border Schemes. Cllr McGarvey said some people who are suffering do not have the ability to apply for such schemes. On the back of his motion, the Letterkenny-Milford MD is set to write to the HSE and request the development of a programme.