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Ballina votes to donate mayoral chain to Jackie Clarke museum

Ballina votes to donate mayoral chain to Jackie Clarke museum

Anton McNulty

Ballina Town Council’s mayoral chain will be placed on display in the Jackie Clarke Library after the council’s abolition. Councillors voted for the move at a recent meeting, despite some opposition.
The proposal to donate the mayor’s chain to the Jackie Clarke Library in 2014 was made by Cllr Johnny O’Malley. He said that both Jackie Clarke and his son, Cllr Peter Clarke, had worn the chain, and he felt it was appropriate that library be the new home of the chain following the abolition of the town councils in 2014.
While the majority of the councillors supported Cllr O’Malley’s proposal, Fine Gael councillor Mark Winters spoke against the suggestion, saying it was ‘premature’. He suggested it remain in the current County Council offices in Ballina.
He received support from party colleague Cllr Barry McLoughlin, but when his proposal was put to a vote, it was defeated by seven votes to two.
In voicing his opposition to the proposal Cllr Winters said that while Jackie Clarke and Peter Clarke both wore the chain, others had also ‘worn it for the people of Ballina’. He said no decision has been made about the abolition of the Town Council, and added that the leader of the proposed municipal councils may be required to wear it.
“This area will need a figurehead to broker links with other areas, and that figurehead will represent the town or area. This area will be presented by Ballina and will need some sort of distinction. The distinction for us is the chain around the neck,” he said.
However, Cllr Winters’s suggestion was rejected by the other councillors, who also rejected thoughts that the Town Council may survive beyond 2014.
Cllr O’Malley rejected Cllr Winters’s idea that the chain could be worn by the figurehead of the new Ballina municipal area, saying that the chain represented the town and not the area around Ballina.
“The symbolism of the chain represents the first citizen of the town who is second to no one, apart from the President of Ireland, within the boundaries of the town. The new area could stretch from Swinford to Belmullet, and the symbolism is no longer there. Phil Hogan has taken it away. There will be no mayors of the town; there might be a mayor of the municipal area, but he or she will have no statute power and could be overruled by the dominant party. The chain’s symbolism of that will be gone,” he replied.
Cllr Gerry Ginty said he had fears about Mayo County Council ‘getting their hands on’ the chain, and he took exception to the thought of people who supported the abolition of the council getting to wear the chain. He also suggested they would ‘flog it to fill potholes’.
Cllr Mary Kelly said she was also against the suggestion that the chain remain in the County Council offices in Ballina, saying ‘God knows where it will be kept’. She said the Jackie Clarke Library was the best place to put it on display.
After the vote, Cllr O’Malley’s proposal was carried.

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