It is with great sadness that I make this statement on the passing of former Councillor Noel Collins RIP. A lifelong public representative and the embodiment of advocacy, Noel was the longest sitting Councillor since the establishment of Cork County Council and the longest serving public representative in the State.
A native of Lusk, Co. Dublin, Noel’s early career was that of a social worker, a role and responsibility that would come to define his approach to public office, with a dedication to supporting the marginalised in his community.
In line with the high esteem Noel was held by his constituents, former Councillor Collins topped every poll since 1967 in which he was elected to Midleton Town Council. After parting ways with Fine Gael in 1969, Noel engaged in each election as an Independent with support from a legion of friends united in admiration for his charitable, political and social work. At the 2019 Local Elections, Noel received 2,267 first preference votes, securing a seat on the first count and was so far ahead it took 7 further counts before another candidate was deemed elected.
Noel celebrated 50 years of unbroken service as a public representative at the June 12th, 2017 sitting of Cork County Council. His fellow Councillors, who affectionately referred to Noel as the father of Cork County Council, when recognising this immense milestone, remarked on his unwavering dedication to social justice, his uncanny local knowledge, his support of younger members of Council through sharing his wisdom and experience together with his unorthodox and direct approach to holding clinics in public.
Having given 55 years of service to his community in Midleton and East Cork, I think it is worth highlighting how Noel didn’t drive, didn’t use a phone and had no computer. But this never stopped him. Noel used a typewriter and written letter to communicate and he did so to great effect, winning the hearts and minds of those he met.
Despite a raft of changes both here in Ireland and globally throughout his political career, Noel showed just how much could be accomplished with the written word, freedom of speech and commitment to public service.
As Mayor of the County of Cork and on behalf of the Elected Members and staff of Cork County Council, I offer my deepest condolences and sympathies to Noel’s family, friends and to the people of East Cork who he so passionately represented. Noel will be forever remembered.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.