*Cllr Paul Murphy. Photograph: Eamon Ward

CLARECASTLE representative, Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) has come under strong criticism for singling out elderly drivers in his defence of traffic calming measures along the Clon Road in Ennis.

As reported by The Clare Echo, Cllr Murphy was critical of “licences for life” and “incompetent driving” when voicing strong opposition at last week’s meeting of the Ennis Municipal District to a call from Cllr Pat Daly (FF) to remove one side of the cycling lane, armadillos and bollards on a 1.2km stretch of road in Clonroadmore, Ennis.

In a strongly worded letter issued to this paper, a self-described “disgusted pensioner” admitted they were left angry and dismayed by Cllr Murphy’s remarks. “Mr. Murphy’s ageist denigration of the driving skills of so many of our population that have gone their whole lives without accident or incident on the road was an outrageous insult to skills garnered over many years. I wonder could he or any of his supporters in the Council Chamber have such clean records to boast? Mr. Murphy, would you make such ignorant generalisations against immigrants and other ethnic communities in our midst? I think not – You should think hard before making such comments. If the said complainant spared time to read the newspapers or watch the TV news, any day of the week he would see that most of the accidents and fatalities on our roads are not the result of pensioner negligence but can sadly be attributed to carelessness of a much younger generation”.

College Grove resident Paddy Smyth told The Clare Echo that he thought the comments of Cllr Murphy were “disgraceful” and “very unfair”. He stated, “The bollards speak for itself, every time we see one knocked it is a reflection of poor planning”. He recalled meeting Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF), Cllr Mary Howard (FG), Cllr Daly and former Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) with residents in 2019 where strong opposition was made known to them.

Mark Sutton of Sutton’s Lighting felt it was inappropriate of an elected representative to single out elderly drivers.

Elected members of Clare County Council who do not sit on the Ennis Municipal District expressed disappointment that the Clarecastle native was not forced to withdraw his remarks.

Political pundits in the county have questioned the ill-advised nature and timing of the remarks. The Local Media Show on Scariff Bay referenced how the elderly are often the most active when it comes to travelling to the ballot paper at the time of an election, when discussing the Ennis MD meeting.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting of Clare County Council, Cllr Murphy referenced plans for the Limerick Rd and St Flannan’s Drive in the monthly management report. “I look forward to clarity being provided in the coming days on comments that were attributed to me”, he stated. The former Mayor of Ennis said he received “unfair abuse” and had a difficult few days since his initial comments were highlighted in the media.

In an online post, Cllr Murphy said the article by The Clare Echo and this writer was “shoddy journalism, taking cheap shots and stirring a negative agenda. I would suggest that anyone that’s interested in reading an accurate report should purchase the Clare Champion at a cost of €2.90. The article is on the front and inside page and it refers to Councillor Pat Daly’s notice of motion in an accurate fashion, it’s actually responsible journalism at its finest. Imagine that it also quotes the notice of motion in its entirety”.

Cllr Murphy declined to engage with this reporter when contacted about his comments by The Clare Echo on Wednesday.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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