*Leo Varadkar launching the Ennis 2040 Strategy. Photograph: Paul Corey

€2.2m has been spent to date on the Ennis 2040 economic and spatial strategy.

A financial report detailing the expenses and financial commitments obtained from the €10 million loan issued to the Ennis 2040 Designated Activity Company was requested by Councillor Tom O’Callaghan (FF) during the January meeting of the Ennis Municipal District.

Ennis 2040 Designated Activity Company was formed in 2021 with the purpose to develop the strategic locations listed in the Ennis 2040 Economic and Spatial Strategy. Nine transformational projects are to be delivered in the county town as part of the strategy. Ennis 2040 DAC is a 100% owned subsidiary of Clare County Council and was incorporated on 8th December 2020.

Clare County Council authorised a €10 million loan in June 2021 to support the projected works programme for the Ennis 2040 strategy.

“In response to requests from members of the public I ask that Ennis 2040 DAC provide to the elected members of Ennis MD a financial report of expenditure and financial commitments made since the approval of a €10m loan from Clare County Council to enable that DAC to operate,” Cllr O’Callaghan detailed.

Director of Service and Economic Development, Carmel Kirby outlined, “As of December 2023, a total of €2.2m (from the €10m approved) has been drawn down by the entity based on loan agreements entered into between Clare County Council and Ennis 2040. The funds drawn down have been applied to the design, planning, and progression of a number of projects including ongoing operating costs and overheads on behalf of Clare County Council”.

Spending to date has been on planning, development, and advancement of projects, including Abbey Street, Francis St, Harvey’s Quay, Post Office Field and ongoing administrative costs and expenses on behalf of Clare County Council.

2021 accounts relate to the establishment and operation of the company for the first 13 months up to 31 Dec 2021. In this period the accounts show that a deficit of €47,949 was recorded. The 2022 accounts relate to the operation of Ennis 2040 for the period 1 Jan 2022 to 31 Dec 2022. In this period the accounts show that a surplus of €18,304 was recorded based on billing raised to Clare County Council in respect of project work completed in this timeframe.

In respect of accounts for year ended 31st Dec 2023 these are scheduled to be prepared and audited over the course of January & February 2024, ahead of presentation to the Board of Ennis 2040, the Director confirmed.

Cllr O’Callaghan responded, “I’m very supportive about this response, you look at cost and money being spent, 2.2 million is a considerable amount of money, I hope there is value for money, and I will continue to flag this, to make sure that everything is going accordingly”.

Cllr. Johnny Flynn (FG) seconded the motion, although raised concerns on the proposed development on Abbey St car park. “There is a lot of aspirations, I don’t have a particular problem with the Ennis 2040 DAC, but I think the Abbey St approach is bonkers. It’s a significant amount of expenditure but also I’m thankful for financial report”.

Kirby advised councillors, “To be clear, sending over the funding has been extended for some planned various projects that will be revealed shortly, for me certainly I believe we have a good approach”.

Cllr O’Callaghan replied, “My duty as a public representative is to show real concern, and make sure that we understand what is going on with this approval and make sure that it is as I already mentioned, going accordingly”.

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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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