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Photograph by Eamon Ward

New mayor: Ennis can shine after disastrous pandemic

“ENNIS is open for business”, the town’s new mayor Councillor Ann Norton exclaimed as she took the chain of office.
The Barefield-based representative was elected as mayor of the county capital at the recent AGM of the Ennis Municipal District.
Her vision for her term as mayor is to encourage recovery from the “disastrous effects” Covid-19 has had on Ennis.
The founder of Clare Crusaders has also vowed to highlight the issues facing carers during her term in office.
She was nominated to take the role by Councillor Pat Daly who stated she “is capable of becoming an excellent mayor”, pointing to her heavy involvement in the local community.
The proposal was seconded by Councillor Johnny Flynn who spoke of her leadership qualities while also acknowledging the work of outgoing mayor Councillor Paul Murphy in what has been a “very difficult year”.
This is Councillor Norton’s second time as mayor, having previously been elected in 2016, while Councillor Murphy was elected as deputy mayor at the AGM.
Following her election, Councillor Norton stated she was “deeply honoured”.
She expressed the belief that the in-person meeting of the council rather than online was a positive sign for the future.
“This summer brings optimism and confidence that the world we have grown accustomed to over the past year and a half is beginning to shift and with events such as this we are able to mirror the change as I take on the role of mayor of the Ennis Municipal District.”
She continued, “I am confident that I can be a voice for the people of Ennis Municipal District in need of our support now more than ever.”
Her election came during Carers’ Week, a time that is of particular significance to Councillor Norton as a carer for her daughter Nicole.
“I hope to focus my attention during this year on highlighting the issues that carers like myself face,” she said.
She continued, “As Mayor of Ennis 2021 – 2022, my vision is that we encourage the recovery from the disastrous effects Covid-19 has had on the businesses and the people of the Ennis Municipal District.
“There has been a lot of hard work done since the beginning of the pandemic to ensure safety, while encouraging community spirit which is something I want to continue as I take on this new responsibility.”
She said Ennis’ quiet, open spaces are home to a “multi-faceted community”.
“We are the home of influential businesses in finance, retail, high-tech and hospitality.
“We have a vibrant cultural arts community that is committed to making Ennis a destination for tourists who visit the west of Ireland.”
She expressed the hope that Ennis will regain its high standards as a tourist town, insisting that “Ennis is open for business”.
Councillor paid tribute to outgoing mayor Councillor Paul Murphy “for all his hard work and dedication” to the role.
“His passion and commitment to our municipal district and the people he represents is something that has not gone unnoticed, not only in the past year as mayor but in every walk of life. Paul is a fantastic colleague and I wish him every success.”
Councillor Norton stated she is “very excited for the year ahead”, adding, “but I do know that without the support of my family I would not be standing here.”
She acknowledged her family members, including husband Cathal and her children Nicole, Lauren and Conan and parents Marie and Gerry.
She said she was “eternally grateful” that her family members could attend the handover of the mayoral chain.
“I pride myself on the closeness of our family. We haven’t all been together outside of the house in a very long time so for our first time to be here in the Council, I couldn’t think of anywhere more fitting.”
Councillor Johnny Flynn offered his support to the incoming mayor, and he acknowledged the work that has been carried out by public representatives and the council executive as a result of the pandemic.
He said there has been “a lot of frustration” among members of the public which has been taken out on Council staff.
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy recalled “it’s incredible” that it has been five years since Councillor Norton was elected mayor, saying the time has “flown by”.
She also acknowledged Councillor Murphy for his time in the chair saying, “it’s not an easy thing to be a mayor and be told to stay at home, that’s the antithesis of being a mayor”.
Councillor Mary Howard expressed the hope that the vaccination roll-out will bring more positivity in the future.
She praised the work of the council executive who have “fought for the town and taken abuse that is not deserved”.
She said that the Council has been doing its best to get Ennis back open, and she is looking forward to Ennis attracting more tourists and business.
Director of Service, Carmel Kirby stated that the Council executive has “a very strong team”, and she paid tribute to the “tremendous work” the Council staff have done to put Ennis “front and centre as probably the safest town in Ireland to live, shop and work in”.
Councillor Pat Daly also offered his congratulations to Councillor Norton, and commenting on Clarecastle man Councillor Murphy’s time in the role he laughed, “For a Magpie, Paul didn’t do a bad job as Mayor of Ennis.”

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