A member of Clare County Council since 1985, Bill Chambers has always wanted to be the first citizen of the County, on Monday he fulfilled that ambition.
Fresh from taking the mayoral chains from James Breen, Bill spoke to The Clare Herald and revealed he always wanted the position once he entered Clare County Council thirty one years ago. “Tis a major honour definitely no question about it, I’m thirty one years in the Council and it was always my ambition it just didn’t come along until now so it’s a great honour today for myself and my family”.
In taking the position he becomes the first man from Cooraclare to hold the office. Chambers takes great pride from this given the Councillors that have come from the village before him. “There was always nearly a Councillor in Cooraclare going back for years, going back to Johnny Daly’s time Brendan’s father, Tom Campbell, Micheál Chambers and his father who was there before Johnny Daly so I mean there’s tradition in Cooraclare”.
One of the traits associated with the Fianna Fáil Cllr is that of a reserved, quiet gentleman. As Cathaoirleach he will be expected to be noisier but he doesn’t plan to be stretching his vocal chords too much in the Council Chamber. “The role of Chairman is to conduct the meetings, you won’t have all this talking to do, you have to implement standing orders and tis very easy once you stick by the rules but at the same time you have to be flexible, I won’t take in that much talking”.
He succeeds James Breen and plans to take a leaf out of the Kilnamona’s man book in finishing meetings in one sitting. “James Breen was an excellent Cathaoirleach to my mind anyway, he finished every meeting in the one go and very few meetings we had to come back to that had to be adjourned for the sake of time”.
According to the unanimously elected Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, the biggest issue in Clare is that of unemployment. “The main problem we have in the County at the moment and all over Ireland barring Dublin is employment and jobs. I’d love to see something done about the decline of rural Ireland and looking back my way and West Clare three out of every five houses closed. What you can do I don’t know like tis a thing that they have to be looking after anyway.
“Tourism is a great thing for West Clare you have to promote tourism, Shannon Estuary is there, they’ve been speaking about industry in the Shannon Estuary I’m in the Council thirty one years and they’re still talking about it like so we have the deepest water in Europe and we still haven’t done anything”.
Looking closer to home, Bill feels his native Cooraclare could become vibrant in the future but is frustrated when he recalls his attempts to get a sewerage scheme in the West Clare village.
“One thing that grieves me about my term as a Councillor I was pushing for a sewerage scheme and it was going as far as it was almost ready to go to tender and it was pulled, there was €380,000 spent in Cooraclare doing sideworks buying a site for the treatment plant and all and it was pulled like that so I’d love to see if Cooraclare had a sewerage I could definitely see expansion there, I mean I’m being parochial now but I’m just giving an example of what happened like, would it have been any cheaper off the cuff to do the job than to spend €380,000 and then, we haven’t this or that, we haven’t the €380,000 and we haven’t the sewerage”.
He will work closely with Fine Gael Cllr Paul Murphy who is the new Leas Cathaoirleach of the local authority. Bill says he’s looking forward to working with a man he describes as a gentleman. One of their early discussions will be trying to get Simon Coveney to alter the title of Cathaoirleach to Mayor. “That would be something I’d be pushing for, I’ll have a talk with Paul Murphy now and we’ll see will he get on to his crew” he said with a smile.
Primarily over his three decades on the Council Bill would have been based in one area of the County that being West Clare, he is planning to do his title justice and be Cathaoirleach for the whole County. “I’m mayor for the whole County that’s the way it is you have to be, while I love West Clare I’m still mayor of the County and it’s as simple as that”.