*Linda Earlie (right) with former TY students from Coláiste Muire. Photograph: Arthur Ellis

CLARE County Council’s town regeneration officer’s departure cannot allow for projects such as the Sixmilebridge masterplan to fall by the wayside, concerned elected representative have said.

In the past fortnight, Linda Earlie took up employment with Enterprise Ireland as their development adviser for the Mid-West region.

Prior to this, she had been Clare County Council’s town regeneration officer and had previously worked with the Local Enterprise Office within the Council.

She had been heavily involved on the development of the Sixmilebridge master plan, the village was the first Clare area chosen among 26 towns across the country under the first phase of the National Town Centre First initiative that received funding to develop a Town Centre First Plan.

Linda had also been working on the One Shannon Hub, a multi-functional building which will combine a town hall, an adaptable performance and community space, library, and flexible co-working spaces in the heart of Clare’s second largest town.

Acting Director of Services, Siobhán McNulty confirmed at a meeting of the Shannon Municipal District that Linda had “resigned from her post” with the Council to commence employment with Enterprise Ireland. “She is a huge loss to Clare County Council but we wish her well, she was instrumental in the finalising of the Sixmilebridge master plan with the town team”.

Queries were then issued by Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) as to who would lead both the Sixmilebridge masterplan and One Shannon Hub following Linda’s exit. “Linda was heading them up and she is no longer with us now. Any place Linda will go she will do a good job. Is it possible to get someone to lead them up? Will it now be led by three or four people who already have plenty to do,” he stated.

Ms McNulty confirmed that senior planner Helen Quinn has “assumed control” for the town regeneration officer post until a permanent appointment is made. “Tomás Prendeville is project lead, we’re filling the gaps until they are filled. There is a post there, I don’t know if it will be backfilled,” she admitted.

Cratloe representative, Cllr Ryan responded, “I’d have a concern with that, they are well capable people but they already have a big workload”. He continued, “Sixmilebridge is the only village to get that status, I would hate to see it fall behind because of vacancies”.

Earlie’s work within Sixmilebridge was praised by Cllr John Crowe (FG), “she came in with a plan and she delivered a plan”. He outlined, “In 2011, I put a motion down to get a car park in Sixmilebridge because I could see the congestion was getting worse by the day, it has taken that length and for Linda Earlie to get it across the line, it will do so much for the centre of the town of Sixmilebridge”.

Addition of the car park “will give Sixmilebridge a major lift,” Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) maintained. “The other thing that keeps coming up when master plan is mentioned is a second bridge crossing, hopefully it can realise a second bridge crossing”.

Cathaoirleach of the Shannon MD, Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) commented, “Linda’s positive energy will be missed”.

Assurances were offered by McNulty that Clare County Council was still “very committed” to both the Sixmilebridge master plan and One Shannon Hub.

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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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