Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) has become the third woman to wear the Mayoral chains as Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council following her election on Monday.
Madeline Taylor-Quinn (FG) and Patricia McCarthy (IND) held the post over a decade ago and on Monday, Colleran-Molloy was unanimously elected to the role succeeding Cathal Crowe (FF) who sits in Dáil Éireann for the first time on Thursday.
She will serve as Cathaoirleach for the next four months and had been Leas-Cathaoirleach since June. “You have been in the Council six years, during that time you have been Mayor of Ennis and now Mayor of Clare, it is a great success story,” Cllr Pat Daly (FF) commented as he proposed Cllr Colleran-Molloy for the Chair.
Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) said it was “a great pleasure” to second her nomination. “I compliment you on the way in which you have carried out your duties since you were elected to the Council. I believe you are an ideal candidate for the position for the next four months”. Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG), stated, “You have shown over the last number of years your ability to deliver for your constituents”. Colleran-Molloy was praised by Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) for the “kind and supportive” manner in which she helped him adjust to life on the Council.
Pressure was put on the thirty third Dáil to restore the title of Mayor and not Cathaoirleach by Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND). Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) was keen that the title of Cathaoirleach be maintained to promote the use of the Irish language. “You worked extremely hard this year and to get Cathal up to Dublin,” Cllr Ann Norton (IND) remarked, “You have a fantastic way about you. It’s an extremely proud moment for yourself and Tony”.
“It couldn’t have happened to a better person, you will do the people of Clare very proud,” Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) believed. He recalled, “I was at a function with Cllr McMahon organised by the Mayor of New York, he didn’t have half the crowd you have”. Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) was of the view Colleran-Molloy’s elevation would encourage more women to enter political life.
Through her Leas-Cathaoirleach position, Clare was already in the Chair and stated, “Assuming there are no further nominations, I believe I can deem myself elected”.
Newly elected TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) added, “The Mayoral office is the greatest honour anyone could have, I think it surpasses being a TD, you are the first citizen of the county. The chain won’t weigh heavily on you because you will do a great job”.
A native of Quin, Clare addressed the Chamber and paid tribute to her family and friends while also remembering her deceased father, brother and first husband. She recalled the move of her family to Quin in the 1960s so that her father Jack could commence work in the construction sector in Shannon. “I was the family’s first born in Clare so my Christian name was a no-brainer”.
Clare tracked her education path and how it led her to studying in Exeter and Miami, meeting some “inspiring” people along the way. “The unpredictable, long and winding path to public office has me now wearing the Mayoral chain becoming the first female Fianna Fáil Mayor of Clare and third in the county. This in itself should give us pause for thought, women are 50% of the population”.
During her four months in the role, the qualified barrister has pledged to call for “the ending of neglect” at Shannon Airport, the “upgrade of Ennis General to a model three hospital”, “new approaches to address rural depopulation” and the establishment of “just transition funding to address imminent job losses at Moneypoint”.
Kilmurry representative, Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) was elected to the role of Leas-Cathaoirleach, a position he was first elected to in June 2018. He was proposed by Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) with Cllr Pat Burke (FG) and Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) backing the nomination.