THREE of Ennis’ longest-serving public representatives will not be contesting this May’s local elections. Councillors Tommy Brennan, Peter Considine and Mary Coote Ryan are retiring from politics.
Independent Councillor Brennan, a member of Ennis Town Council for 35 years and Clare County Council for 29 years, said he made the decision to bow out as a result of changes to local government. “Our function as councillors has been taken away and it’s pointless. It has completely changed. It started in about 2001 with Better Local Government and then the recent changes by Minister Hogan. It leaves the council with no function whatsoever,” he stated.
He said the decision not to stand was not made lightly, particularly given the high level of support from the public over the years.
“The people of Ennis have given me great support over the last 30 years and I thank them for that. I look forward to retiring and, if I can be of any assistance to any of those people, I will do my best. I’ve had a good innings. I’ve been chairman of Ennis Town Council three times, mayor of Ennis for three terms, been mayor of Clare in 2004, a member of Clare VEC for more than 30 years and chairman for eight years. I have never lost out in any local election I stood for,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Ennis Town Councillor Peter Considine has been a public representative for 41 years. Speaking about his decision not to run, he said, “I felt the time had come to let younger people have a go at it. I would like to express appreciation to the people for their support over the years.”
He explained that among the reasons for his retirement from politics is his “bitter disappointment” at the centralisation of local government and the “denuding of local powers”.
He believes that plans for the replacement of Ennis’ local authority with a municipal district are “pie in the sky”.
“The council unfortunately has become less relevant in recent years and I worry genuinely about the loss of local input into local problems. I have no problem with Clare County Council; it has a great purpose but I don’t think it is the vehicle for managing urban area development, which is a different animal altogether. Ennis not having its own statutory authority has the potential to damage the development of the town of Ennis, not just businesses but local communities and residents associations. I don’t believe Ennis would be where it is today without the input of the town council. I worry that by putting it in the hands of the municipal district authority, a town like Ennis will lose out. This is very damaging for democracy and I hope we don’t live to regret it,” he said.
Fine Gael Councillor, Mary Coote Ryan, who was first co-opted onto Ennis Town Council in 1990, said she was planning to retire, even if the town council was not being abolished.
“I’ve been with the town council for almost 24 years. I have loved every minute of it and I will miss it very much. The people of Ennis have been very good to me and I always did my best for them. I hope I was of help while I was there. It’s a great feeling to help people, particularly when it comes to housing. I do think that Ennis Town Council has done a lot for the town over the years and I would like to thank the people who voted for me,” she said.