WITH conflicting reports coming out about the health of Muhammad Ali, Ennis Town Council has made preparations to honour the first ever freeman of the town in the event of his death.
On Monday the council gave its unanimous backing for a member of the local authority to attend the funeral of ‘The Greatest’, after a proposal was made by former Mayor of Ennis, Cllr Frankie Neylon.
“Because he’s our first Freeman of the town, I would be proposing that when, rather than if, he passes that someone from this council would represent the people of Ennis at his removal,” said Cllr Neylon.
The move by Ennis Town Council at its February monthly meeting was sparked by a statement on Sunday from Ali’s younger brother, Rahman Ali that the 71-year-old who was feted in Ennis in 2009 was now in “God’s hands”.
“He’s in a bad way. He’s very sick,” he said. “It could be months, it could be days. I don’t know if he’ll last the summer. He’s in God’s hands,” he added.
However, these claims have been dismissed by Ali’s daughter, May, who said “he’s fine, these rumors pop up every once in a while but there’s nothing to them” and reported that he watched the Superbowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.
It hasn’t stopped Ennis preparing for Ali’s death. “It was a day in Ennis that nobody will ever forget – September 1, 2009,” said Cllr Neylon in proposing his motion.
“His wife Lonnie said that they always wanted to come back, but that’s not going to be possible. I think that because the coverage the town got on that particular day, and because he’s the first freeman of the town, we should be looking very closely at having representation at his removal,” added Cllr Neylon, who was Mayor of Ennis for Ali’s historic visit to the county capital.
Also on Monday, Ennis Town Council pressed ahead with a decision not to name the new relief road in the town after Ali, instead naming it Gaol Road, because of its proximity to the old Ennis Jail.

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Joe Ó Muircheartaigh graduated from University College Dublin in 1989 with a degree in history and politics. After completing a Diploma in Journalism at The College of Commerce, Rathmines in 1991, he embarked on a career in journalism. Joe spent four years with Clare FM from 1992 and was with The Clare Champion from 1996 to 2005. He has won two McNamee Awards for GAA journalism and has published two books. Contact Joe on [email protected]

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