Cooraclare man Bill Chambers has been elected Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council succeeding Independent Cllr James Breen.
Páraic McMahon reports from Áras Contae an Chláir.
Councillors unanimously backed the appointment of the Fianna Fáil Cllr at the Clare County Council AGM held in Áras Contae an Chláir. Bill becomes the first man from Cooraclare to take on the position and has been a member of the local authority since 1985.
Addressing the Council Chamber following his election, Councillor Chambers said, “The role of Cathaoirleach is one that goes back many decades and it is an honour for me to follow in the footsteps of so many great servants of this County.”
“I will work hard during the next 12 months to promote Clare through leadership and partnership in my new role as the County’s First Citizen. I am looking forward to what will hopefully be a prosperous year for the County as we host Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in August and again in 2017. This prestigious international event will certainly showcase our County and all it has to offer.”
He was proposed for the role by Fianna Fáil Cllr PJ Kelly who said that Chambers is the “cool head needed” that “will inspire others” and “take difficulty with ease”. Bill Slattery seconded the long-serving Cllr referring to him as very fair, helpful gentleman. The Fine Gael Cllr stressed the importance of maintaining cross-party support.
Congratulating Clare’s new Cathaoirleach, Independent Cllr Christy Curtin stated that he looked forward to the “team-player” taking the mantle. Interim Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Ger Dollard is confident that a positive and successful year is ahead for the local authority. Councillor James Breen said, “As one of Clare County Council’s longest serving Elected Members, I want to congratulate Bill and wish him the very best for the year ahead.”
Outgoing Cathaoirleach James Breen in his final speech in the role spoke of the rewarding and enjoyable experience he had during the one-year term. He was very proud to represent the County at home and in places such as London, New York City and Chicago. His highlights in the role included establishing connections with the Yunnan Province in China, Clare County of Culture, 1916 Commemorations, Ennis being awarded the Fleadh for two years and the commencement of work on the Ennis market.
“It has been an honour and privilege to serve the people of Clare. I took great pride especially in representing the County when meeting with members of the Clare Diaspora, especially during my trips to the London, New York and Chicago. The changing face of Local Government in recent years has forced a rethink on how Councils do their business. Our focus however, should always remain on doing what’s good for the people of Clare. The spirit of partnership and the shared sense of public service are very evident within this Chamber.”
Several Cllr’s paid tribute to the Kilnamona man for his time in office. Mary Howard who worked alongside Breen as Leas-Cathaoirleach said it was an honour to work with him. PJ Kelly highlighted that James came into the role at a difficult time and always presented the County well and stated that “he will be remembered in the future”. Fine Gael’s Joe Cooney praised Breen’s conduct of business and said he always got on with business. Christy Curtin remarked that he was a jovial character who received very positive feedback from abroad, the Miltown Malbay man added that the outgoing Mary Howard has a bright future in politics.
Clarecastle’s Paul Murphy assumes the role of Leas-Cathaoirleach. He is a member of Clare County Council since 2005. He stated that he looks forward to putting his shoulder to the wheel and working with Cllr Bill Chambers.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Tony O’Brien has been elected Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District. Cllr. Pat Burke was elected Leas Cathaoirleach at the Municipal District AGM on Monday. Ann Norton is the new Cathoirleach of the Ennis Municipal District with James Breen the Leas Cathaoirleach.
The new Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District is Cllr. Bill Slattery and the Leas Cathaoirleach is Michael Hillery. Cllr. Ann Norton has been elected Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District and Cllr. James Breen is Deputy Mayor. The Shannon Municipal District AGM takes place tomorrow (Tuesday).