HUGE appetite exists among the public and business community for future pedestrianisation in Ennis.
Almost 70 per cent of people surveyed by The Clare Echo would like to see some form of pedestrianisation in Ennis planned for in the long term, while just shy of 50 per cent of the business community are in favour of pedestrianisation plans.
While 69 per cent of people surveyed would like to see a pedestrianisation plan in Ennis, 26 per cent were against it with a further five per cent undecided. Of those within the business community surveyed, some 49 per cent were in favour of a long-term plan for pedestrianisation versus 40 per cent who are against. Some 11 per cent of business people are undecided.
However an overwhelming majority of both shoppers and business people believe Ennis is currently unprepared to deal with the logistics of a pedestrian plan, with 74 per cent of businesses and 57 per cent of the public respondents saying Ennis does not have the parking and traffic infrastructure to accommodate pedestrianisation.
Stephen O’Callaghan of Cartridge Plus on Abbey Street stated, “Some slight improvements to the current system may make pedestrianisation a good long-term option. Maybe certain sections pedestrianised full-timer, with certain streets or sections only pedestrianised 11am-5pm on business days to allow full car access to businesses between 5-6pm before they close in the evening? Full pedestrianisation in areas with a greater density of restaurants and bars may help promote outdoor dining.”
Paul Madden of the Temple Gate Hotel argued that a united approach from traders would be key to any future plans, saying that pedestrianisation could work “only if proper infrastructure is put in place and everybody buys into it.” The owners of a clothes retail business on O’Connell Street who wished to remain anonymous, said they were in favour of permanent pedestrianisation “but only if parking and the traffic infrastructure is greatly improved”.
Dermot Fetton of Henry’s Bistro said that he would be in favour of potential plans to pedestrianise Ennis in the future. He referenced the Mobility Plan, explaining “I saw people enjoying it. When businesses were open last summer, the visitor experience was a really positive one and the feedback from visitors was exceptionally positive. It really put Ennis on the map as a place to visit because of how comfortable people were. If it’s to be considered in the long-term, it would be great if there was another look at parking in the surrounds of the town.”
However Tom O’Donnell, who has a family-run sports shop on Abbey Street, put forward the counter-argument, “Traffic essentially is the lifeblood of the town’s mobility. Continuous movement of traffic brings vibrancy and life to all areas of the town equally and allows people to do drop-offs and collections easily.” One long-term trader on O’Connell Street added that any closure of Abbey Street or O’Connell Street has “a negative knock-on effect on the traffic flow on the outer ring roads.”
Miriam Keane of Tierney’s Sweetshop on Abbey Street says that while pedestrianisation offers great freedom for the walker, it has a devastating impact on revenue for local businesses. She noted that having traded in the street for over 30 years, “the minute they close the street at 11am we could nearly close the shop as well.” Miriam added that there have been major delivery logistical issues imposed on many businesses by the mobility plan.