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Councillor Ann Norton, outgoing mayor, pictured with her successor, Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy, sporting the chain of office.

New Ennis mayor hails ‘visionary’ plans for town’s development

PLANS for the future development of Ennis have been described as “incredible, proactive and visionary” by the municipal district’s new mayor Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy.

The Fianna Fáil councillor was elected mayor of the county capital at Friday’s AGM of the Ennis Municipal District.

Speaking following her election she made reference to the Ennis 2040 Strategy, providing a comprehensive framework for the sustainable development of the town and the region.

“This plan is a plan that sets out a future that isn’t one of stagnation but rather vibrancy for our capital town. It is a town that you will want to visit, will want to work in and will want to live in and that is something that we must applaud,” she said.

This is the Ballybeg-based councillor’s second term as mayor of Ennis, having previously held the title in 2018. She also served as Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council in 2020.

She told the AGM that it was her “great honour” to serve for a second time as mayor adding, “This is especially so in a post-Covid pandemic environment where my duties won’t mean being housebound which is the anthesis of what a Mayor is and is what I experienced unfortunately as Cathaoirleach and Mayor of Clare.”

She said that the Latin phrase ‘Tempus Fugit’, or time flies, had been coming to mind recalling the speed in which the eight years since she was first elected have gone by as “just incredible”.

Since the last time she wore the chains of Ennis’ first citizen there have been many changes, and world has “endured the loss of our freedoms, the loss of the life and normalcy that we took for granted, and for some of us the loss of loved ones”.

In an emotional moment she paid her respects to her mother Dolly, father-in-law Raymond, sister-in-law Mary and brother-in-law John and her friend Margaret McMahon who passed “during this difficult and challenging period for us all”.

She praised her husband Tony for the support he has given her, as well as acknowledging her extended family and friends.

Councillor Colleran Molloy said the role of mayor is “coveted” adding, “As I did last time I served as mayor of the Ennis Municipal District I will again exert every ounce of energy to do my very best to represent the people who put me in this seat, my colleagues and the people of the constituency to deliver on incredible, proactive and visionary plans we have for our great town.”

She spoke of how Ennis has demonstrated excellence in community spirit with its recent awarding of the overall Tidy Towns award among other accolades presented to the town over the years.

“It’s important to remember that these accolades are not handed out. They’re not gifted, they’re earned and they’re earned through enhanced communication between the local authority, the municipal district and the people it endeavours to serve.”

Councillor Colleran Molloy stressed the importance of recognising the efforts of volunteer groups, describing them as “heroes”.

This was recently exhibited at receptions by then mayor Ann Norton and Cathaoirleach PJ Ryan honouring the achievements of local groups and individuals.

“Without their involvement where we live would be a very different place, and that is something we should be very proud of in County Clare,” she said.

She confirmed that during her term as mayor she will continue to serve as director with Councillor Johnny Flynn and Councillor Ann Norton on the board of the Ennis 2040 company.

She expressed confidence that the “vision and proactive positivity that emanates” from the Ennis 2040 plan will result in funding for projects, adding that this will take time.

“These documents are referred to by ministers and when ministers refer to documents funds start flowing when you can define appropriate projects.”

She acknowledged the “professionalism” of the staff and officials of the Ennis Municipal District.

“Huge improvements” will be seen in the town centre at the Height, O’Connell Street and Barrack Street in the near future with the councillor saying the plans are “superb”.

Speaking about a recent survey which showed 70% of those responding were in support of pedestrianisation she said, “Clearly Covid-19 and the pandemic has given us a learning curve that has accelerated the potential for pedestrianisation down the way.”

She paid tribute to the fellow councillors saying, “Without us working together we wouldn’t really be able to support the management and the executive in doing all that they’re doing.

“Without each of us working, as well as we do together, many of our successes of the past would never have been and many of our successes for the future.”

She was proposed at the AGM to take over the Ennis chain of office from Councillor Ann Norton by Councillor Pat Daly who referenced her experience in the role previously “and a barrister thrown in, not too bad”.

“I think she has the character to succeed as an excellent mayor,” he said.

Seconding the motion, Councillor Mark Nestor wished her the best of luck in the year ahead.

Outgoing mayor Councillor Ann Norton recalled how they had both been elected to the council at the same time.

“I believe we have worked extremely well together over the last eight years. We have done a huge amount of things together to make sure that the people of our county, our town, get what they deserve.”

Councillor Colleran Molloy responded by saying that her predecessor had done “superbly” in her role.

Councillor Johnny Flynn commended Councillor Colleran Molloy on speaking “so eloquently” on the impact of Covid on her own family and the wider community.

“You’ve discussed various chapters in the book of Ennis and you are now about to be the author for the next chapter in the next 12 months and certainly I know all your colleagues, including myself will support you in your endeavours.”

Congratulating the new mayor, Councillor Paul Murphy went on to nominate Councillor Mary Howard as deputy mayor.

He remarked she “has endless energy, and is devoted 110% to our electorate and to her role as a public representative.”

He said that she had been deputy Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council however, “she was probably robbed of serving the role properly from the point of view that it was in the depth of Covid.”

He added that the role is “one that she would cherish and carry out in a proper fashion”.

Seconding the nomination, Councillor Flynn said, “I think she is an excellent candidate and I know the two of you will work extremely well together” adding he has seen first hand Councillor Howard’s ability to bring people together.

Accepting the title, Councillor Howard said she hadn’t planned on saying anything, but that it is important to acknowledge democracy.

She congratulated Councillor Colleran Molloy saying she will be a “wonderful first citizen of the town of Ennis”.

She recalled that during her time as Cathaoirleach of Clare she didn’t have the chance to leave the county.

She said that Covid has been “tough on all of us, we’re all walking wounded, our lives have all changed.”

She concluded by saying it will be an honour to serve as deputy mayor.

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