Sinn Féin’s Toireasa Ferris, daughter of Kerry North TD Martin Ferris, has been elected Mayor of County Kerry.
The 25-year-old is Kerry’s youngest mayor to date and the third woman in the history of the council to hold the chair.
More than 100 people, including Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, family members and fellow republicans packed the council chamber in Tralee for the historic event.
She said it was humbling to see so many Kerry republicans in the chamber, and Ms Ferris recalled the severe repression and state violence that had been endured in years past.
“While today is a joyous occasion, I’m very conscious of the fact that many of you and members of my family have been through tremendous hardship,” she said.
Her uncle Brian and her father Martin had “suffered cruelly at the hands of this State for their beliefs”.
Describing her mother Marie as “an incredible woman”, who had spent 10 years bringing up six children on a pittance on her own while her father was in Portlaoise prison, Ms Ferris said she and her siblings were very proud of their mother.
The children who had spent years travelling to Portlaoise to see their father and being “dragged out of our beds” at 5am and 6am when the Special Branch and Garda came to raid their house, never imagined they would see this day..
Ms Ferris is completing a masters’ degree in human rights and criminal justice at Queen’s University Belfast, is a graduate of law and European studies at the University of Limerick and is a fluent Spanish and Irish speaker.
Reaching out to youth and minority groupings, equality for the county, tackling the decline of rural communities, and more representation for women, would be among her priorities in the coming year, Ms Ferris said.
Representatives of the elderly, ethnic communities, disability groups, youth groups and farmers were present during her acceptance speech.