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*Cllr Michael Begley (IND). Photograph: Eamon Ward

HAVING BECOME the first Mayor of Clare from Clonlara, Cllr Michael Begley (IND) has repeated the same feat but this time as the Cathaoirleach of the Shannon Municipal District.

On Tuesday at Treacy’s Oakwood Arms Hotel in Shannon, Cllr Begley was unanimously elected as the successor to Cllr John Crowe (FG) at the Shannon MD AGM, having been proposed by Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) and seconded by Cllr Pat McMahon (FF). “It is an honour to get to wear one of these chains at any time, hopefully I can do it with honour over the next twelve months,” he said. Elected to the Council on his third attempt in 1991, he lost his seat in 2004 but has been returned in the subsequent 2009, 2014 and 2019 elections.

In his opening address, Cllr Begley who was elected the county’s first citizen in 2018 pinpointed flood defences at Springfield as his first issue of concern, “John gave a list of what has been achieved. We need to look at what can be done for the next twelve months and there is no better place to start than at home, Springfield flood defence started in his time and hopefully it will be done in mine, if the weather stays as it is, it will be done in September”.

During his time as Mayor, he became au fait with the aspirations of the South Clare Economic Development Zone which he said now has a timeframe of two years to get Government approval, “we’re hearing so much about it for so long, we’re hoping it will take next step which really is the first step and that’s approval from Government”.

Development of town and village renewal schemes in Drumgeely and Clonlara were referenced by the Limerick CBS past pupil. The N19 access road to Shannon Airport must progress, “access to Shannon Airport is excellent from every direction except the last leg and that needs to be done ASAP. I won’t shed any tears if Dublin Airport has further problems”.

Councillors this week were updated on the Shannon Masterplan with the Shannon Hub advancing to a design brief and the cycleway link between Newmarket-on-Fergus and Clarecastle which he joked, “I believe it will have a caveat on all users when it is finished not to bring any hurleys with them”.

Similar to Cllr Tony O’Brien’s (FF) opening address as Mayor of Clare, Cllr Begley also took the opportunity to criticise Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan’s (GP) hesitancy surrounding the Limerick Northern Distributor Road (LNDR). “I don’t know what this Minister has in mind, he attempted to do same thing for phase one and had to retrace steps, hopefully it will happen again for a little bit of it anyway”.

He acknowledged the contributions of local authority staff, namely senior executive officer Jason Murphy, senior executive engineer Tom Mellett and Director of Services, Liam Conneally.

Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) was elected as the Leas Cathaoirleach of the Shannon MD, having been nominated by Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) and Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF).

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