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Retied Clare County Council CEO, Tom Coughlan.

CEO has regret over town council abolition

The outgoing chief executive of Clare County Council said he believes large towns should have their own municipal council.

As he leaves the position after completion of his seven-year term, Tom Coughlan said he had not enjoyed implementing certain aspects of the Reform of Local Government Act 2014, adding that it was with “some regret” he had to oversee the abolition of Ennis Town Council.

“I served as Ennis town manager for over 10 years and I got to see what Ennis Town Council achieved and what it could achieve,” he told The Clare Champion, citing Glór, Lees Road, housing developments, Ennis Leisure Centre as well as the upgrading of O’Connell Street.

The Ennis resident believes the county town is big enough to justify having its own local authority, with a population of 25,360 in the 2011 Census.

“The town council played an important role in the town and when it was abolished, of course I did have reservations about that. I feel there is a need for some local authority in the larger towns in particular. When you think about it, Ennis is the largest town in the West of Ireland and it doesn’t have its own municipal council. So it was with some regret that I had to oversee the abolition of Ennis Town Council because I genuinely believe that the councillors worked in the best interest of the town.”

He described the process of absorbing the town councils as “difficult”.

“To abolish the four town councils and to bring their services and staff to Ennis, and particularly the financial matters where you had two rating authorities in Kilrush and Ennis, to bring it all together in the county council was a difficult task,” Mr Coughlan said.

“Change is always difficult but we got through it and carried out the reforms we had to carry out,” he added.

By Nicola Corless

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