Councillor Cathal Crowe will fly to the top table in Clare County Council tomorrow afternoon when he is elected as the its next first citizen after councillors hammered out a new power-sharing deal.
There were fears that the 15-year power-sharing pact, which was in operation since 2004 was coming to an end after Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Independent Technical Alliance failed to agree on a new deal earlier this week.
However, intensive talks late on Wednesday night broke the logjam and ensured power-sharing will continue for another five years.
Councillor Cathal Crowe is delighted to get the opportunity to succeed Councillor Michael Begley as Clare County Council chairman at the local authority’s annual general meeting on Friday afternoon.
“I feel hugely honoured and excited to be at the cusp of taking on this important leadership role and I promise to give it 110%,” he said.
Councillor Crowe’s elevation as the next council chairman is a timely boost for his bid to win a second Dáil seat for Fianna Fáil in the next General Election.
He is one of Fianna Fáil three General Election candidates, joining outgoing Deputy Timmy Dooley and Doonbeg businesswoman, Rita McInerney.
As the county’s first citizen, he can look forward to an increase in his political profile as he travels around the four corners of the county meeting people and carrying out various local authority and civic duties.
It comes less than two weeks when he soared back into Clare County Council with a second successive poll-topping impressive performance, increasing his first preference vote from 1,929 in 2014 to 2,575.
Claire Colleran-Molloy will be elected as deputy vice-chairperson.
Clare Fianna Fáil Councillors have also agreed that if Councillor Crowe is elected to the Dáil before next June, then Councillor Colleran-Molloy will become the council chairperson and Councillor Alan O’Callaghan will step up as deputy vice-chairman.
The Clare Champion has also learned that Councillor Tony O’Brien, Councillor Mary Howard, Councillor Joe Cooney and Councillor P J Ryan will also serve as first citizens over the following four years.
Back in 2004, Councillor Crowe became the youngest councillor elected to Clare County Council. The Parteen National School teacher has won four local elections and is now firmly setting his sights on entering Leinster House.
Last October, Councillor Crowe hired a secretary, Emer McCutcheon from Meelick after his selection as a Fianna Fáil General Election Candidate increased his workload four fold.
The father-of-three, who is running in the Shannon Electoral Area, estimates his workload has doubled since 2004.
Councillor Crowe joined FF in Second Year in UL and did his co-op in Brussels.
“Deputy Willie O’Dea brought my under his wing and within a day of getting my phone number he had me out canvassing in Parteen. It was pretty much a drug, I was hooked on,” he recalls.
Deputy O’Dea emphasised the importance of being present for constituents between elections, outspoken, going against the grain if necessary and holding clinics.
Councillor Crowe admits he has an incredible wife, Maeve whose support allows him to work some nights until 11pm and he tries to make set aside most of the weekend as family time.
Having first met Maeve in 2003, they got married in 2013 and have three young children.
For the last 16 years he is the only councillor holding monthly clinics.
“People like to be able to meet you at a set time and venue once a month. I meet an older profile of people mostly over 50 years and deal with social welfare queries.
“I might see two or three people at each clinic and could meet 16 during the evening,” he explains.