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*Waterpark House was the location for the Mayoral reception.

LOCAL GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS were honoured with a mayoral reception in Ennis last week with Clare County Council criticised for snubbing the media for the event.

Members of the Ennis Track Under-20s Team who won the 2022 Junior Men’s European Club Cross Country Championship, the Ennis Brass Band plus rugby stars Alanna McInerney, Tony Butler, Ethan Coughlan and Conor Moloney were honoured at the reception which took place at the Buttermarket Building in Drumbiggle.

For what is believed to be the first time since the early 2000s, media outlets in Clare including The Clare Echo, The Clare Champion and Clare FM were not invited to attend a mayoral reception in the county. The blunder has been described by some Ennis councillors to The Clare Echo as “terrible”, “a disgrace” and “extraordinary”.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, a spokesperson for the County Council said it was “an administrative oversight” not to invite the media, a photographer had been hired for the event by the local authority. “Corrective action has been taken to ensure this does not happen again,” the spokesperson added.

Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Ann Norton (IND) who hosted the event told The Clare Echo it was “a mishap” and “misjudgement” to not include the media on the guest-list.

Planning officials in January successfully managed to twist the arm of senior officials in the local authority to have a meeting of the Rural Development SPC held in-camera so that both The Clare Echo and The Clare Champion could not attend.

Meanwhile, with hybrid meetings now held for the County Council, the traditional media section of the Chamber has been converted into the base for the temporary sound system which has resulted in the press having to attend meetings remotely via poor connections or in the public gallery without access to power if there is one more than outlet present, the local authority has encouraged the media to attend remotely.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) who is Chair of Standing Orders within the local authority expressed his disappointment with the developments and flagged that the desk now used for the sound system was built specifically to cater for the media. “As far as I’m concerned, they are public meetings and the media have every right to be there, if they want to be there in an online process, that is their prerogative. Any member of the media that wants to attend in person should not be denied access,” the Shannon representative stated.

Clare County Council acknowledged that the original space cannot facilitate all media at present but said they would endeavour to assist those that wished to attend in-person or via Microsoft Teams. “A long-term solution for upgraded audio visual solution for the Council Chamber is currently being progressed. A timeframe for installation is not yet available and the temporary solution to facilitate hybrid meetings will remain in place in the short-term”. The current system for sound hire and technician is costing the Council €650 plus VAT per meeting, The Clare Echo has learned.

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