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Obesity is being assisted through the charges and opening hours for accessing community sporting facilities, one West Clare representative has stated.

Cllr Ian Lynch made the remarks at Friday’s meeting of the West Clare Municipal District following on from a motion of his which called on Clare County Council to “review the access and charging structure for Active Kilrush Sports Complex to ensure the better use of the facility”. The €320,000 astro turf and running track opened in April 2015.

Siobhan McNulty, a senior executive officer with the local authority confirmed they were in the process of reviewing opening hours “to enable better use of the facility, in particular the focus will be on pedestrian access”. The Council intend to reduce the hire cost for the pitches there to €20 for juveniles “which is in line with the charging structure for other Active Ennis facilities. This reduction can be immediately applied to encourage active youth participation in sport once agreed by the Management Committee”.

A meeting to approve the charged fee with management is hoped to “take place as soon as possible”. McNulty explained “the cost to the Council for the management, maintenance and upkeep of the facilities at Active Kilrush is significant and these costs are not recovered by the charges applied for the use of the facility. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Council to maximise the use of the facility to generate a greater income to support the cost of running the facility”. Reference to the Healthy Clare Strategic Plan 2019-2021 launched at the end of March was made by Monica Meehan, Rural Development Officer.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Lynch highlighted recent reports including the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) prepared by the Southern Regional Assembly which noted ‘a demise in the vitality of Kilrush’. “It is a wonderful facility that didn’t cost Clare County Council financially. We are a disadvantaged town that is widely known and the last report identified it”.

He added, “When we charge for facilities, we are adding to obesity and all the problems associated with it. We’re basically teasing the public with a beautiful facility,” adult teams come together and use the facility weekly “to get healthy”.  The Independent councillor stated they had been requesting a meeting with management of the complex for the “over and over, it’s been eighteen months since our last meeting”.

In the past fortnight, he made a trip to John O’Sullivan Park in Ennis and noticed a big difference between that and Cooraclare Rd facility, “I can go into Lees Rd and kick around a ball, you can’t do that in Kilrush”. Fianna Fáil’s Bill Chambers seconded the motion.

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