*Cllr Pat Daly. Photograph: Eamon Ward

CLLR PAT DALY (FF) has been elected as the new Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District while there was no drama with only one proposal for the Deputy Mayor gig.

At Thursday’s AGM, the former Mayor of Clare was unanimously elected to the role. Behind the scenes efforts from high ranking councillors in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil stopped the potential bid of Cllr Ann Norton (IND) to become Deputy Mayor instead of Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) a move which would have put the Council’s power-sharing arrangement in place at risk.

Ennis native, Daly who hails from Gallows Hill was first elected to the Council in 1999 when he topped the poll in the Ennis electoral area with 1,351 first preference votes.

He was the second candidate elected behind Joe Carey (FG) in the 2004 election in the Ennis constituency. Pat was the fourth of five candidates elected in Ennis East in 2009.

When the ballot paper in the Ennis MD in 2014 was among the longest in the country, Daly amassed 1,000 first preference votes and was elected on the eighteenth count. For the 2019 local elections, he was the last of the seven councillors elected in the Ennis MD and did so without reaching the quota.

Before entering political life, he worked for his family business in Parnell Street after finishing school in St Flannan’s College. He was the first chairman of the Parnell Street Traders back in the early ’80s. From 1993 to 2011, Daly served as the parliamentary assistant for Clare TD, Tony Killeen (FF).

Clare TD, Cathal Crowe, Ennis Fianna Fáil Comhairle Ceanntair Chairperson Tom Costello and former Clare TD and retired councillor, James Breen (IND) were among those seated in the public gallery.

Proposed by his party colleagues Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) and Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF), Cllr Daly told the meeting that Ennis is now the biggest town in Munster, “we’re bigger than Sligo and Letterkenny and we’re up there with the top”. He referenced the town’s recognition for its Age Friendly Strategy, friendliest place, tidiest town and the enhancements of Parnell Street which had a spend of €5.8m.

Highlighting initiatives he would like to see progressed in the next twelve months, Cllr Daly said the River Fergus walkway should be extended to the quay at Clarecastle, “the potential there is unbelievable” and called for the Rocky Road to be acquired by the local authority.

He was not shy in criticising the Council in his opening remarks, “The Market Building has been a big disappointment, I’d ask management to have another look at it, we lost the Farmers Market to Roslevan, something has to be done with it, the Market was the place in town and I’d like to see a revival, would like to see a farmers market or antique market there”.

O’Connell Street should be open to traffic from Monday to Thursday as democratically voted at a recent meeting of the Ennis MD, he argued. Lack of parking is leading to staff working in the town centre “taking up all the spaces,” he said when touching on the contentious issue of car parking, “it’s not their fault because there isn’t enough car parking, maybe we need to look at a multi-storey car park”.

Relocating the taxi rank from Parnell Street to Bank Place is worth considering, Daly suggested. “Ennis 2040 comes with huge positives” such as plans for Roche and the old Ennis National School, he added. “I’m a huge supporter of it, if we work together we can reach an agreement as friends and colleagues to improve other aspects”.

When outlining his reasons for proposing Cllr Daly, Cllr O’Callaghan commented, “I was fighting for the post offices and when nobody would listen, Pat in Mayor in 2013 allowed me into this Chamber, it started to get the ball rolling and for that I’m eternally grateful”. He quipped that he has gone through three to four pairs of shoes in his efforts canvassing for Cllr Daly.

Outgoing Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Colleran Molloy described her colleague as “an able politician”. She stated, “change is in the air and good management of that change will be necessary, I’ve no doubt you have those skills”.

There will be no issue for Cllr Daly representing the town, Cllr Norton insisted. “There are a lot of difficult decisions to be made but we will do what is best for the District,” she added.

Relations between Cllr Daly and Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) were described by the latter as “more than a political friendship, it is a family friendship”. He referenced how his grandmother Peggy and Pat’s mother Bridgie “were good pals” and how Daly’s nephew Rory and Paul “are best pals”.

“There is no better man to be in the seat for the last year of our term. It is not your first rodeo so you will be well able for it and for us,” quipped Cllr Mary Howard (FG).

Adding his support, Cllr Flynn stated, “It is fantastic for the town and district that you will be leading us. You were a fantastic team player when we were on the same soccer team, you have shown some political leadership since then”.

Prior to the meeting it was unknown if a reported contest for the Deputy Mayor would come to fruition. Cllr Flynn had been approached by Cllr Daly to act as his Deputy Mayor but councillors who are pro all aspects of the Ennis 2040 Strategy had considered preventing this from happening but stopped at the last minute, following persuasion from senior councillors in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Notably, Cllr Howard left the meeting before the agenda reached the election of Deputy Mayor. She was attending the opening of the local injury unit at Ennis Hospital by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly (FF) and did not want to be seen to publicly abstain in voting for her party colleague Cllr Flynn or voting against him. Nonetheless her actions will cause some rancour within the Fine Gael party.

Once again it was Cllr O’Callaghan who made the proposal, this time for Cllr Flynn to be Deputy Mayor, “I have found Johnny very open-minded, very focused on issues of change, direction, transparent and personally very good to work with. We’re in a time like everything that everyone has a way of doing business”.

Seconding the proposal, Cllr Daly explained, “I spoke to Johnny a couple of years ago and told him I’d be Mayor in the final year and asked him to be my Deputy and he said he would”.

No counter-proposals were voiced from the floor meaning that Cllr Flynn was elected without opposition. “I was thrilled when you asked me to be your Deputy, we’ve great colleagues in the Ennis MD, we have people with different perspectives without them we can be very narrow focused and short-sighted,” he said.

Twenty minutes of the forty four minute meeting were dedicated to a speech by outgoing Mayor, Colleran Molloy with tributes voiced from all of her fellow councillors. Less time was spent when it came to Daly’s speech but once again all councillors added their congratulations but when it came to Cllr Flynn only his proposer and seconder made contributions with Cllr Norton, Cllr Murphy and Cllr Colleran Molloy staying silent while Cllr Howard had departed for Ennis Hospital to an event which did not start on time as tends to be the case with all ministerial visits.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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