FINE Gael’s Joe Cooney was this afternoon elected Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council at its AGM, succeeding Killaloe’s Tony O’Brien. Councillor Gabriel Keating was elected leas Cathaoirleach.
It was the 50th Council AGM to be attended by Councillor PJ Kelly and a special presentation was made to him to mark the milestone.
On his last day wearing the chain of office, Councillor O’Brien said that when he was first elected to the Council the possiblity of one day being Cathaoirleach had been in the back of his mind, and he said it had been “a dream come true” to represent Clare locally, nationally and internationally.
He praised the Council staff and his colleagues for their support over the last years, while he said that Clare’s volunteers are “the heartbeat of our county.”
When the presentation was made to Councillor Kelly he said that when he was first elected in 1974 “I didn’t expect to be here after nine elections or at a 50th AGM.”
He said the changes since have been “unbelievable” while he praised the late Peter Considine for the work he did on helping to introduce the power-sharing agreements that have been a feature of Clare County Council for many years.
However he said there have been some negative changes, particularly around planning, while he claimed that West Clare has been “sterilised”.
Councillor Cooney was nominated by his East Clare colleagues Pat Burke and Pat Hayes, who both paid tribute to his work rate and popularity in the area.
After accepting the chain of office Councillor Cooney said it was a great honour for him, while he called on all involved with the Council to practice respect and compromise. “They will be required in abundance by all involved,” he said.
After being elected as leas Cathaoirleach, Councillor Keating praised the staff of the Council and the local media, while he congratulated Councillor Cooney. He promised to represent the county to the best of his ability over the coming year.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.