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New West Clare Cathaoirleach Optimistic About Region’s Recovery

WEST Clare must stand ready to capitalise on the opportunities coming its way, despite the challenges of Covid-19, according to the new Cathaoirleach of the Municipal District.

Councillor Joe Garrihy said that while 2020 would be a difficult one, in light of the pandemic, there was strong potential to develop West Clare if members work together on strategically important projects.

“It is a challenging time for the district in terms of tourism, agriculture and the overall recovery from the impact of Covid-19,” the Fine Gael member noted. “We have a great team, but we will need help from central government and strong representation. We will also need to diversify and end our over-reliance on tourism.” Councillor Garrihy, who was elected last year as a first-time member of the local authority, identified opportunities in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the investment in climate change projects. “Sustainable energy projects will be possible across West Clare,” he noted. “A new town and village renewal strategy is on the way and we must be ready, and not be left waiting and wondering when funding is offered.”

The Lisdoonvarna resident also paid tribute to outgoing district chairperson Councillor Bill Slattery, saying he had much to learn from the “class and dignity,” with which he held the office.

Ensuring geographical and party political diversity at the top table in the district, Fianna Fáil’s Councillor Cillian Murphy from Loop Head took the role of Leas Cathaoirleach.

Separately, the new Cathaoirleach may soon have a chain of office, following a proposal from Councillor Ian Lynch that efforts be made to secure one. “I believe the position deserves a chain,” the Independent member said. “Shannon has a chain and Ennis has a mayor. Without a chain, when you are invited to an event, you are just another person.” Director of the West Clare Municipal District, Leonard Cleary explained that the practice of having a cathaoirleach’s chain dated back to the existence of town councils. “We will examine what’s possible and what’s legal,” he said.

The motion was seconded by Councillor Roisín Garvey.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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