Niamh McGowan with her parents Sean and Mairead McGowan of Ratoath.
Ashbourne Labour Party councillor, Niamh McGowan, has this week been elected as new cathaoirleach of Meath County Council, succeeding party colleague, Cllr Eoin Holmes.
She defeated Fianna Fail nominee Cllr Jimmy Fegan for the position by 19 votes to eight (with one abstention and one absentee). Her nominators were Cllr Jenny McHugh and Cllr John Farrelly. Cllr McGowan had the support of Labour, Fine Gael and independents Brian Fitzgerald, Jimmy Cudden and Francis Deane.
Cllr Fegan was unanimously elected leas-cathaoirleach.
Cllr McGowan, a native of Ratoath whose parents were both teachers at Ratoath National School, lives in Ashbourne and was elected to the council in June 2009. She served as Dunshaughlin area chairperson during the past year. Working as a barrister, she specialises in employment, labour and equality law.
Cllr McGowan said that she felt "humbled and honoured to have been elected cathaoirleach and promised that she would do her best to represent all of the people of Meath during her year in office. She said she had a tough act to follow in the footsteps of Cllr Eoin Holmes.
This year was a particularly important one for the council because they would be putting forward the new development plan for the county for the next six years, she said.
One of her big interests, she said, lay in the area of community development, which was becoming more important considering the number of young people there were in the county.
"My focus will be on the provision of educational facilities, particularly in Ashbourne, where there is a serious and urgent need and also to supplement this with family recreational and youth play and activity facilities such that we can provide a real community environment in which people do not have to travel for education, work and play," she said.
Cllr McGowan obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from UCD in 1986, a postgraduate diploma in Personnel Management from University of Limerick in 1992, a diploma in legal studies from the King's Inns in 2005 and a barrister at law degree from the King's Inns in 2006, where she finished third in her.