SPECULATION is mounting that Clare’s longest serving county councillor, PJ Kelly, may not be a candidate in the 2014 local elections next May. The Lissycasey Fianna Fáil councillor has sat on the county council since 1974 and has served with 97 councillors over that period. He was first elected as an Independent councillor in the Miltown Malbay electoral district. He stood for Fianna Fáil in the 1979 local elections.
Speaking to The Clare Champion on Wednesday, Councillor Kelly described himself as “undeclared.”
A source said that Councillor Kelly will not run if what was described as a “winning substitute” can be located.
“I’m in consultation with local supporters,” was all Councillor Kelly was prepared to say on the matter.
Fianna Fáil are due to meet next Tuesday to decide upon their local election strategy.
By then they will know what Councillor Kelly’s intentions are. Councillor Bill Chambers has confirmed he will be seeking a nomination to run in the new West Clare constituency, which will elect eight county councillors. The electoral area stretches along the western seaboard from Loop Head to Black Head.
Former Kilrush county councillor Tom Prendeville, who sits on Kilrush Town Council, has confirmed that he will be seeking a nomination from the party. Kilrush town is currently without a sitting county councillor, which is just the second time that has happened since 1898.
Fianna Fáil are having trouble recruiting young candidates but are believed to be considering fielding eight candidates in west and north Clare.
Meanwhile Fine Gael will meet to select candidates in the West/North constituency at the Belbridge House Hotel, Spanish Point on Friday November 8.
The Clare Champion has learned that at least seven candidates will be seeking the party nomination including sitting county councillors Oliver Garry, Bill Slattery and Gabriel Keating.
Other candidates include sitting Kilrush town councillors Ian Lynch and Marian McMahon Jones, current mayor of Kilkee, Paddy Collins and Johnny Pilkington from Cree.
Former TD and ex county councillor Madeline Taylor Quinn will not be standing nor will serving Kilrush town councillor and former town mayor Liam Williams.
The 2014 county council will feature 28 elected members, which is a decrease of four.
Sitting councillors who retire or are not elected next year will be paid a gratuity of €3,344.80 per year of service from May 4, 2000. An ex gratia payment will be given to retired councillors for their service prior to May 2000.
The minimum qualifying period for an elected member to be paid the gratuity is two years. This means that an elected member is eligible for a payment after two years service.