FIANNA Fail have lost their second sitting councillor in a week after Shane Clifford announced his resignation from Limerick City and County Council this Wednesday.
It follows Cllr Richard O’Donoghue who quit the Fianna Fail party and is to run as an Independent candidate in the general election. Mr Clifford, from Casteconnell, said there is “absolutely no connection whatsoever”.
“My decision has nothing to do with party politics. I am resigning my seat on the council for personal reasons, it is as simple as that. This is something I have been weighing up for quite a while,” said Cllr Clifford, who narrowly missed out on topping the poll in Limerick City East in 2014.
The decision will take effect from December 31 and Shane is ruling out ever going back into politics again. “Some would say ‘never say never’ but I am. The reason I am doing it is very much personal. Unfortunately it has proved impossible to combine my responsibilities as a husband and father of three young children, a full-time job and the council.
“The time commitment that is required from the council is a huge amount more than I thought, and I had done my research - with dad [former cathaoirleach John Clifford] being involved I had a fair insight.
“I had also spoken to other councillors and if you ask any of them now the time commitment that is required in this particular term is much more than it was in previous terms as a result of the amalgamation.
“When I put my mind to something I want to do it well and I found it very difficult to combine the role of councillor and the fact that I need to work full-time to pay the bills. The council was never designed to be a full-time job.
“It is designed to be a part-time job and my understanding was that I would be able to combine it with a full-time role as an employee but that hasn’t turned out to be the case. I was absolutely thrilled and so honoured to represent people and repay the trust people put in me by giving me their vote,” said Mr Clifford.
Unfortunately,he says, it is not possible to do all three things - family, job and the council.
“And I don’t want to fall into the trap of spreading myself too thinly and not being able to perform each role to the best of my ability. One of the things I have really learned is that it is very important to manage your mental well-being,” said Mr Clifford, who adds that the best way to do that is to do the simple things properly - be physically active and healthy, sleep and eat well, and get balance into your life.
“My balance was totally out of kilter from the time of the election campaign. I didn’t have enough hours in the day to achieve everything. By resigning my seat I can focus on my family and my career and give someone else with time on their hands the opportunity to represent the people of Limerick City East, particularly the people of Castleconnell, Montpelier, Ahane and Annacotty.”
Working with Innovate Limerick and advocating on behalf of the community was what he enjoyed most on the council. “For example working with Mountshannon Road residents to oppose the route of the Northern Distributor Road. They have been completely vindicated in their action in opposing it after the route was completely flooded last week.”
What he didn’t like was the public profile.
“I like getting things done but doing them in the background. I am not suited to frontline politics. It was a big decision but now that I have made it there is a weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m very excited about moving on,” said Cllr Clifford, who wished to thank his family, friends and neighbours, campaign team, everyone who voted for and supported him, especially the people of his home parish in Castleconnell, and staff and colleagues on the council.
“ I hope people can understand why I have made this decision and they don’t feel let down.” said Mr Clifford.
“Limerick is at a very exciting time in its development and it was an honour to be a part of this, even for a brief spell.”