CLARE Person of the Year, Dr Susan Crawford took her seat on Clare County Council on Monday evening last, following her co-option to replace Senator Róisín Garvey.
Dr Crawford becomes Councillor Crawford and takes the Green Party mantle on the local authority and a seat in the West Clare Municipal District.
Nominating her at the monthly local authority meeting, Councillor Joe Garrihy said that amid all of her previous accolades the autism action campaigner would begin “a new journey”. “It gives me great pleasure to nominate Susan to fill Róisín Garvey’s seat,” he said. “Susan’s addition is very timely. The West Clare district makes up half of the county and Susan is coming on board at a time of lots of challenges and exciting opportunities. Having Susan join us will provide a great boost across so many areas.”
Mayor of Clare, Councillor Mary Howard said she was “honoured and delighted” to second Dr Crawford’s nomination. “I took the autism awareness training which Susan has developed,” she noted. “I learned so much and I still use it. Come on down, Councillor Susan Crawford.”
The new Green councillor thanked her family for their support. “It is a great honour and very humbling to represent the Green Party in West and North Clare,” she said. “This truly is a privilege and I am hoping to make a significant contribution.”
Councillor Crawford thanked Senator Garvey for her support. “Róisín has empowered me,” she said. “I’m very proud of Róisín’s work and of the vision that she is providing in the Seanad.”
The new councillor also paid a warm tribute to her son Tomás, who received an autism diagnosis at the age of three in 1998. “Tomás has inspired me to go beyond what I might ordinarily have done,” she said. “He continues to do that. I am a committed social justice activist, especially for those people who are on the autism spectrum. There are many challenges facing those who are vulnerable and who need support, especially at this time.
The new Green representative also listed the creation of opportunities for physical activity as among her priority areas. “So many people are compromised by sedentary lifestyles,” she said. “I want to see more cycle lanes and the West Clare Greenway developed as soon as possible.”
Councillor Crawford described herself as a team player, saying, “I know not other way. I’m really looking forward to it and so energised. I’m so happy to be part of the team. It’s going to be great.”
Earlier this year, Councillor Crawford was named Clare Person of the Year for 2020, by Muintir an Chláir. The Clare Association recognised her for her efforts to address quality of life issues for children and adults with autism for over 20 years.
She completed a PhD in the field of Fundamental Movement Skills and Autism in 2007. She is a two-time Fulbright Award winner for her work on development of autism awareness programmes. She has also researched and developed the Get Autism Active online programme.
In 2019, Councillor Crawford undertook a 2,500 km walk, run and cycle along the Wild Atlantic Way from Kinsale to Donegal, accompanied by her son Tomás, in a bid to build awareness of autism.