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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
Waterford City and County Council James Tobin pictured in March 2015.
James Tobin

Tributes paid after sudden passing of Waterford's deputy mayor

James Tobin, who was first elected to Waterford County Council 23 years ago, passed away suddenly over the weekend.

THE DEPUTY MAYOR of Waterford has died, only days after being elected to serve in the role.

Cllr James Tobin, who was first elected to Waterford County Council 23 years ago, passed away suddenly over the weekend.

Tobin, from Knockanore, near Tallow in west Waterford, was a stalwart of Fianna Fáil in the region, topping the poll for the party at the 2009 local elections.

Following a council election last Thursday, he was due to serve alongside Mayor of Waterford John O’Leary who said the late man was a good friend who had “immersed himself” in community work across his life.

“I have the honour of saying I knew James for over 30 years and in that time, I was privileged to work closely with him and consider myself a friend of his,” the Fianna Fáil councillor said.

He was remembered as a man of “wisdom and wit” by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who said Tobin had left behind him a long and distinguished record of service.

“James was the consummate public representative, a man who loved what he did and who did it for the right reasons. He cared deeply and passionately about the people he represented and worked tirelessly to improve their lives and their community,” Martin said.

He added that, as member of Knockanore Shamrocks GAA, Tobin was proud to serve as chairman of the Waterford GAA County Board in 1984, the centenary year of the national organisation.

He was a councillor since 1999 and in 2014 he became the first mayor of the newly amalgamated Waterford City and County Council in 2014.

Tributes were paid by politicians of all stripes in Waterford.

Cllr Pat Fitzgerald (Sinn Féin) said: “I first met him in 2009 when I got onto the council. He was an old soldier then and he was nothing but a pure gentleman to all of us.”

Tallow Labour councillor John Pratt said the community was “devastated” to lose the long-serving politician. 

“Firstly, I just want to send my sincere condolences to all his family. His own wife, Anne, only died in the last year,” he told local radio WLR.

“James was only really just starting to come around from that and I know he’ll be glad to meet Anne in his resting place.”

Tobin last year publicly thanked his political colleagues for their support after the death of wife, telling the council chamber that, despite their disagreements, he considered them his friends who he was glad to serve alongside.

“She was a woman he described as ‘his rock’ and he often recalled how she was so giving of her time to everyone she met,” O’Leary said.

Noting that he held numerous community roles during his decades of service, the mayor said his late friend “particularly relished” working as part of the Déise Link Rural transport committee, as he was “committed to ensuring that people in remote rural villages and towns had access to transport to ensure they didn’t feel isolated”.

Michael Walsh, chief executive of Waterford City and County Council, said the local authority had lost a dedicated public servant.

“James served as a councillor for over twenty years and in that time, his love of his family, his party and his community was evident,” he said.

“Even throughout the difficult time when he lost his beloved wife, Anne, James served with great dignity and strength.”

He is survived by he and his wife Anne’s children, Mairéad, Micheál, Seán, Áine, Séamus and Pádraig.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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