(Photo: Councillor Flan Garvey addresses Clare County Council on his last day as Mayor)
Despite criticism of his globe-trotting exploits at taxpayers expense in the past year, the outgoing Mayor of Clare remains unrepentant.
While graciously accepted the need for criticism at last week's agm of Clare County Council, Cllr Flan Garvey resolutely defended his many trips abroad during his term in office.
?I defend travelling abroad to the last. I repeat what the man from Bodyke said in Melbourne last March. Paddy Fitzgerald is 45 years there and still has his lovely east Clare accent. He said to me and to our delegation, 'Flan, weren't you great to come and see us'.
?They think it's great that people from Clare go to see them rather than they having to come home to see us. It was the same when I was in Chicago and Nova Scotia.
Meanwhile his deputy, once an opponent of 'junkets' has changed his mind on the subject. Cllr Brian Meaney said, ?There is one thing I have to acknowledge. I have now come to understand the necessity of having to travel abroad representing Clare.
?I would like to say that I really understand the necessity that Clare County Council has to ensure that its image abroad is as positive as possible.
?I also have to say that we have a new partnership nationally (Fianna Fail & Green Party), it is going to work out as well as it has here in this chamber over the last number of years?.
Cllr Garvey said he had witnessed many changes in the county during his term in office. He praised the council's Housing section for assisting more than 1,000 people and acknowledged that the roads situation in the county has improved with the opening of Ennis bypass which has improved access to Shannon Airport.
Another major development that coincided with his term was the opening of the Cliffs of Moher centre which Cllr Garvey said will welcome one million visitors this year and is bringing much-needed employment to the north Clare area.
Cllr Garvey paid tribute to the Michael Cusack Centre in Carron which opened recently. ?This is a credit to a great Clare man and it was time that we honoured him properly. The centre will be an attraction for many people, not just on this island but from all over the world as well?.
Rejecting criticism of Shannon Airport he said, ?I'm a great supporter of Shannon Airport. I think it has a great future and I also look forward to the development of the county hospital and the betterment of services to the people of Clare?.
However Flan Garvey also acknowledged that for all the good news, there are always things that go wrong. ?I remember this day last year saying that there are issues we don't like to talk about like suicide and the drugs problem. I have to admit that one year later, the scene is worse than we had hoped.
?I don't know what we can do but I know that we have to do more to ease that terrible pain that is caused to families with young lives lost and ruined and families destroyed, never to be mended again. We need to put more effort into helping those people who need our help,? he said.