*Theresa O’Donoghue. 

A FORMER MAYOR of Ennis has insisted the town’s bus service is on track to be delivered next year while a climate activist has said the public need to be able to visualise such a scheme before buying into the Ennis 2040 Strategy.

Uncertainty over whether the National Transport Authority (NTA) would still fund the Ennis Town Bus Service emerged In November which prompted a meeting with Clare’s Oireachtas members, senior officials in Clare County Council, a sprinkling of Ennis Municipal District councillors and the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers (FF).

Speaking on Tuesday, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) insisted that the project was “a high priority for the NTA”. She said that engineer Eamon O’Dea is “sitting with specific responsibility in the Municipal District for delivering the town bus service. The NTA is working with Eamon, we want to have the stops in the right location and that work is ongoing too. Within the media there was a concern for the delivery as promised at the beginning of 2025”.

She continued, “there was a bit of scare messaging because it’s about having the drivers and the manpower in place to drive the buses. There is a bit of gappiness in the joined-up thinking, we need the bus service up and running”. The Quin native explained that the service will run from the Tulla Rd to the Lahinch Rd and from Ballybeg to Clarecastle but efforts to include Barefield didn’t work for the permit. “Every effort is being made to ensure the delivery date of 2025 will be when we see an operational bus service in Ennis,” Cllr Colleran Molloy stated.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Physical Development Strategic Policy Committee (SPC), Theresa O’Donoghue questioned which SPC was responsible for buses and bus routes in the county. Newly appointed Director of Physical Development, Alan Farrell replied, “It is the NTA, Carmel Kirby is dealing with it through the Ennis MD”.

Lisdoonvarna based Theresa responded, “So no SPC has any say on buses or feeding into it via public participation. If we go back to the DAC and the plan for Ennis, one thing I’d like someone to take cognisance is we’ve all ideas to get cars off the road, they (the public) will not visualise taking cars out of Ennis until they see buses. How can we make that happen. Until we build something that they can come to as in a bus service then people can’t think beyond that. We need to stress how important it is to bring that to fruition”.

She said to Cllr Colleran Molloy as a board member of the Ennis 2040 DAC and the only Ennis MD representative at the meeting and that “I’d suggest that the whole plan for the redevelopment of Ennis be held, you’ll waste hundreds of thousands of euros arguing with people, I can see so much money going down the drain over not having public transport available before that procedure happens, before you have a car park”.

A General Election candidate for People Before Profit in 2020, O’Donoghue added, “We’re hearing all about the buildings, I’m not even in Ennis, I want to see cars off the road and buses in but people have to have alternatives. Is there enough noise made about the buses and participation to plan the buses. How much are people involved in visualising a bus service, it’s as if the whole focus is on the town redevelopment and people might have been lucky to have hired a town bus service is coming. I’ve seen the Midlands with the wind turbines, they fell down because people didn’t know enough about it beforehand, it all got stopped because there wasn’t enough public consultation at an earlier stage. We need to be looking at why people would say yes to this”.

Director Farrell responded, “It is very much an integrated approach in terms of looking at the development of the town, it is critical for the town, public transport is a hugely important part of it. As part of the assessment there will be some public consultation”. He concluded, “There will be consultation on the various elements, it will be taken into account”.

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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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