2 December 2023
~7 minutes read
Councillor James Charity announces that he will not be running in next year’s local elections
Independent Athenry/Oranmore Councillor James Charity has confirmed this morning that he will not be running in next year’s Local elections and will be retiring as a Councillor at the end of the current Council term.
Councillor Charity, who has been a member of Galway County Council since 2014, said in a statement released to Galway Bay FM News this morning that he was proud to lead and deliver during his time in Local Government citing the over €5 million in funding he secured for investment in the locality and added that he felt that he achieved what he could for the area at a Local Government level.
Councillor Charity also confirmed that the entirety of his €30k Mayoral salary during the present term of office was donated to local charitable community development projects, with €26,000 being used in the construction of Annaghdown Playground, and the remaining €4,000 being used to provide for maintenance and improvement of community infrastructure.
He said he was not willing to disclose the making of the donation during his term as Mayor for fear of putting subsequent Mayors under pressure during this term to make similar donations, or for being accused of ulterior electoral motives ahead of the 2024 elections.
In conclusion, Councillor Charity paid tribute to his own family, friends and supporters who stood by him and was now looking forward to spending more time with his wife Fiona and daughter Ellie, as well as focusing on his legal career and business interests.
Councillor Charity’s Statement In Full…
Statement on Local Elections 2024 and Confirmation of personal €30k donation of entire Mayoral Salary
10 years ago, I announced my intention to run in the 2014 Local Elections for Galway County Council with the aim of giving a voice to the community I live in, to provide for absent local infrastructure, and to ensure a fair delivery of council budget funding to an area that had been left behind for far too long.
Two elections and a decade on, in excess of €5 million in funding has been secured from various budgets and funding streams for investment in the locality, 2 new dedicated playgrounds have been built, new pedestrian crossings and footpaths have been provided, while existing infrastructure has been repaired and improved, additional school buses were secured, and public bus services were both restored and expanded to areas that have never been serviced on a public bus route before.
While some others have tried to claim credit or involvement in these projects, and have on occasion been falsely credited for their delivery by those more interested in sewing local division than in the genuine good of our area, I can safely stand over the statement that I was proud to lead and deliver each of these investments and projects during my time in Local Government.
However, at this juncture, I feel I have achieved what I can for the area at a Local Government level.
Remaining priorities for me, particularly the upgrade of the N84 Headford Road from Clonboo to Galway City, and the long awaited Claregalway Bypass, can really only be ultimately delivered by our local TD’s securing their inclusion in a Programme for Government. While I have been successful in getting the ball rolling on the N84 upgrade project, with Galway County Council finally submitting and securing funding for pre-work investigations and survey’s of the proposed upgrade from TII, the ultimate delivery of the N84 project will require significant central Government funding and an interest and engagement from our local TD’s that has sadly been non-existent to date.
Accordingly, and with a very heavy heart, I can confirm that I do not intend to run in the Local Elections in 2024 and will be retiring as a Councillor at the end of the current Council term.
During my time on the Council, I have been fortunate enough to serve as Mayor of the County and the current Cathaoirleach of the Athenry-Oranmore District. But I have never forgotten the people who put me where I am. Having been firstly elected against the odds in 2014 with 1,424 votes, and increasing my vote to top the poll in the 2019 elections with 1,792 votes, I owe all of my thanks to the voters who repeatedly placed their faith in me. To have achieved an unprecedented 94% and 96% of the votes cast in the Annaghdown ballot boxes in 2014 and 2019 respectively, as well as receiving the trust of huge numbers of voters in Corrandulla, Killoughter, Castlegar, Claregalway, Oranmore and Lackagh in both elections, is something I will be eternally grateful for.
It won’t however be a surprise, at least to anyone who closely knows me, that although I was elected as an Independent candidate to the Council on both occasions, I was always open to finding a political home during my time in politics. Discussions did take place on a number of occasions with political parties but ultimately, I was never willing to trade local loyalty for party loyalty, and as such, those discussions did not advance to any significant degree.
Whilst I will not rule out a return to politics at some stage in the future, either as a candidate or perhaps more likely in support of one, I believe that national politics, in particular, requires change to be firstly achieved from within, and a willingness to participate in and make decisions that are neither easy nor comfortable. This view will consequently inform any such future decisions I may make but I firmly believe our County and City deserves far better representation than it has traditionally received in Leinster House, with a laser focus on local delivery being required, and less on golfing in Clifden, attacking our farmers or restricting our freedom of speech.
For now, I am looking forward to spending more time with my wife Fiona and new daughter Ellie, as well as focusing on my legal career and business interests. I want to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge the incredible support of my wife Fiona, who first encouraged me to run for public office, was the one out knocking on doors with me just a day after our wedding, and who has been a rock of support, good advice and patience throughout the tougher times.
I also want to thank my own family, friends and supporters who have stood by me over my years in politics, my Secretary Niamh, those who canvassed for me, those who erected posters in the dark of night and pouring rain for me (and famously “dazzled” those on the N17 😂), those who drove cars during the election campaigns, those who helped run and organise those campaigns (particularly Fiona and Brendan), and last, but not least, to my neighbours in the village of Tonegurrane who always answered the call and willingly volunteered their time to assist when needed.
As a parting gift to my community and those who repeatedly placed their trust in me, I can confirm that the entirety of my €30k Mayoral salary during the present term of office was donated to local charitable community development projects, with €26,000 being used in the construction of Annaghdown Playground, and the remaining €4,000 being used to provide for maintenance and improvement of community infrastructure. These were entirely my own personal funds and I was not willing to disclose the making of the donation during my term as Mayor for fear of putting subsequent Mayor’s under pressure during this term to make similar donations, or for being accused of ulterior electoral motives ahead of the 2024 elections. For me, politics has never been about personal financial gain and my only hope is that the youth of our area benefit from this infrastructure for decades to come.
I will continue to serve as a Councillor until the conclusion of the Local Elections in May/June 2024 when the incoming Council comes to office.