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Councillor P J Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council.

PJ Ryan elected as Clare’s first citizen

COUNCILLOR PJ Ryan is the new mayor of Clare, having been elected at this afternoon’s Clare County Council AGM. Corofin’s Joe Killeen was elected leas Cathaoirleach.

It was Councillor Mary Howard’s last day as Mayor, and she said that being mayor had been “a great honour and a privilege”.

While Covid dominated the year, she said Clare had responded well to it. “We connected and galvanised in the face of adversity.”

Councillor Ryan was nominated by Councillor Michael Begley, who said they had a similar background, having left Fianna Fáil to run as independents. “We were deemed surplus to requirements in 2008 and got elected in 2009,” he quipped.

He also said that himself and the new mayor had “failed the interview, but got the top job.”

Councillor Begley said that the new Mayor is a hard worker, while he said he is bound to be travelling over the coming year. “I say to Mary (Councillor Ryan’s wife) get the travelling case packed. Covid or no Covid, I’d say the Mayor will be flying!”

The nomination was seconded by Councillors John Crowe Pat McMahon Alan O’Callaghan and Pat O’Gorman.

After accepting the chain of office, Councillor Ryan said it was ” a great honour to be elected Cathaoirleach of this great county.” He also congratulated Councillor Howard on her time in the role, and the outgoing leas Cathaoirleach Pat Burke.

He also stressed the importance of the power sharing arrangement, under which positions of responsibility are shared among the various groupings. “Democracy is alive and well in Clare County Council,” he said.

Priorities for the coming year that he identified included getting Shannon Airport on a secure footing and the development of a streetscape for the town of Shannon, the development of Shannon Estuary and investigating the potential of a deep water port , development of Holy Island, the progression of Blake’s Corner, the progression of the South Clare Economic Strategic Development Zone and the rejuvenation of derelict buildings in towns. “If I get all that done I might be in line for the President’s job in a few years time,” he joked.

Councillor Shane Talty proposed Joe Killeen for the position of leas Cathaoirleach and it was seconded by Joe Garrihy. Praising his Fianna Fáil colleague, Councillor Talty said, “First and foremost Joe Killeen listens; he gets all the facts before coming to a very measured judgement.”

Accepting the position, Councillor Killeen said he feels he is still learning as a councillor, after being elected in 2019.

He said that people who like to do things make mistakes sooner or later, and said he does want to achieve results, but may make mistakes along the way. “I apologise in advance but I do intend to get a certain amount done during the year.”

Councillor Killeen expressed some optimism about the possibilities for Clare, as the county comes out of Covid. “Its time for a big lift in every way and this year could be revolutionary.”

Councillor Gerry Flynn, representing the independents and smaller parties,; Pat Hayes, representing Fianna Fáil and Joe Cooney, representing Fine Gael, all spoke to congratulate the newly elected Cathaoirleach and leas Cathaoirleach, while they praised those who just finished in the roles.

About Owen Ryan

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.