*Ennis 2040. 

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER of Ennis 2040 DAC, Kevin Corrigan’s scheduled briefing before the May meeting of Clare County Council has been cancelled.

Senior officials in the local authority informed elected members via email that the attendance of the Ennis 2040 DAC COO would not be proceeding as anticipated on Monday.

In correspondence issued to county councillors, the visit of Minister of Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys (FG) was used as an excuse not to proceed with the briefing prior to the May meeting.

“As you are aware Minister Heather Humphreys is visiting Clare on Monday next to open a number of significant tourism projects, funded by government. For this reason, it will not be possible to proceed with the scheduled Ennis 2040 presentation. The presentation will be rescheduled at a later date,” the correspondence stated.

A briefing had been requested by Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) who has sought further clarity on the spending of the €10m loan drawn down to establish the designated active company and its loan repayments. He questioned if the Council was “financially liable in any event of unfortunate financial misadventure”.

In March, Cllr O’Callaghan issued copies to all present in the Chamber on the minutes of the
June 2021 meeting when a vote was passed to draw down a €10m loan for the Ennis 2040 DAC. Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling in June 2021 stated that the Chief Operating Officer of Ennis 2040 DAC would report directly to him and also report to elected members.

Corrigan had been in the Chamber on Tuesday as students from Rice College gave a presentation to the Ennis Municipal District on their vision for Ennis as part of the Ennis 2040 DAC’s educational programme.

Following the decision not to proceed with the briefing coupled with the upcoming retirements of Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) and Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG), it means the COO will avoid questioning from two of the more vocal opponents to the strategy. “It be would be a further erosion of democracy and it would be very disturbing,” Cllr Flynn said if the reasoning behind the decision was to ensure both he and Cllr Kelly were in not a position to question the COO.

Pulling the item from the meeting was disappointing, Cllr Flynn stated. “I’m shocked because a notice of motion at the April meeting was unanimously adopted, it is a statutory resolution that the Chief Operating Officer would attend to give a report on the matter of the finances. On the original agenda for the May meeting it was scheduled for 2pm and that was discussed by the Corporate Policy Group but somebody has made a decision and the agenda that has come out doesn’t include for that item, it was to be agenda item number sixteen, it is quite disturbing that a democratically passed notice of motion seems to be ignored”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Cllr Flynn outlined, “I’d be interested to hear where the €2.2m has been spent by Ennis 2040 where the most recent accounts show that it has assets of €11,700 so I’d like to know how the money was spent”.

Cllr Flynn calculated that as part of the terms of the drawing down of the €10m loan, the Council will be charged €133,000 per annum but that Ennis 2040 DAC will only be asked to repay €57,000, he said these figures need to be clarified.

He recalled that in 2021 when there was significant opposition in the Chamber to approve a loan of €10m the Chief Executive of Clare County Council “in the statutory adopted minutes” said the Ennis 2040 COO would report back to him and the Council.

“There seems to be a reluctance to discuss the financial report,” added Cllr Flynn who resigned from the Board of Ennis 2040 DAC in September 2022.

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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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