*Cllr Bill Chambers.
COORACLARE’s Cllr Bill Chambers (FF) has announced his resignation from politics.
Chambers had not been expected to contest the 2024 local elections with his absence from recent meetings of Clare County Council and the West Clare Municipal District emphasising this.
His resignation has been submitted to the Council with elected representatives informed of the correspondence on Tuesday.
An elected member of the Council since 1985, the father of five fulfilled a lifetime ambition when he became Mayor of Clare in 2016. He is the first Cooraclare representative to serve as the county’s first citizen.
This role was a highlight in political life for the quiet farmer. “It was my personal highlight for the last term anyway, it’s a great honour to be the first citizen of your county regardless of travelling, I was in America for Paddy’s Day which I thoroughly enjoyed. I wouldn’t have gone to America but for it”.
Chambers was the second candidate in the West Clare MD in 2019 amassing 15.6 percent of the first preferences with 1,431. Ironically Chambers was second from top of the poll for both his first and last election with Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) topping the poll on both occasions.
That performance in 2019 was Chambers’ greatest and surpassed his 1,266 first preferences in 1999 and 1,084 in 1985.
For close to four decades he has been campaigning for a sewerage scheme in Cooraclare. He previously told this writer of his frustrations on the West Clare village’s long wait. “One thing that grieves me about my term as a Councillor I was pushing for a sewerage scheme and it was going as far as it was almost ready to go to tender and it was pulled, there was €380,000 spent in Cooraclare doing sideworks buying a site for the treatment plant and all and it was pulled like that.
“If Cooraclare had a sewerage scheme I could definitely see expansion there, I mean I’m being parochial now but I’m just giving an example of what happened like, would it have been any cheaper off the cuff to do the job than to spend €380,000 and then, we haven’t this or that, we haven’t the €380,000 and we haven’t the sewerage”.
He previously told The Clare Echo of his pride at continuing the tradition of Cooraclare having a voice on the local authority. “I have a lot of work done in Cooraclare, I work for all the area. Cooraclare has a history of always having a councillor, if you go back my namesake Bob Chambers, his son Michael was a councillor, Brendan Daly’s father was a councillor and I took over Michael Chambers that was the term that was vacant. In 1985 I contested the election and won the seat and I’m there since”.
At the December meeting of the County Council, Chambers’ resignation will become effective. A Fianna Fáil candidate will be co-opted to fill his seat following on from this.
His move serves as a big boost to potential party candidates for next year’s local elections. It remains to be seen if Bill will be allowed to suggest his preferred successor within the party and maintain Cooraclare’s history of having a voice on the Council. Rita McInerney of nearby Doonbeg is among those expected to seek the co-option.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) said of his colleague, “Bill gave years of outstanding service to the communities of West Clare and the county overall. Bill gave me plenty of advice and support over my 16 years on the Council and, in more recent times, since my election to the Dáil, we had worked hand-in-hand to deliver a sewage scheme for Cooraclare”
“Bill had a gentle but effective way of pursuing issues on behalf of his electorate and was always able to work with others to get things done,” Deputy Crowe added.