Clare’s Economic Taskforce held its inaugural meeting on Friday while concern has expressed that no individuals representing North or West Clare have been included on the group.

Public and private sector individuals from the world of aviation, hospitality, law and industry are included on the taskforce which was convened by Pat Dowling. The Chief Executive of Clare County Council outlined that its aim to inform and guide appropriate economic measures to stimulate job creation in the county.

Former Consul General of Ireland in New York, Noel Kilkenny is Chair of the Taskforce. Members include Chairman of Shannon Group Rose Hynes, Ennis native and CEO of Avolon Domhnall Slattery, Mick Guinee Chief Executive of Ei Electronics, Managing Director of Roche Gerry Cahill, Allen Flynn of Flynn Hotels who is currently President of Ennis Chamber, Shannon Chamber President Stephen Keogh, Enterprise Ireland’s Jerry Moloney, William Corcoran of the IDA plus Pat Dowling and Director of Economic Development with the County Council, Liam Conneally.

Absence of industry experts from North, West and East Clare have been flagged with The Clare Echo as was the omission from representatives of Moneypoint.

Roles of the taskforce including identifying immediate priority actions to maximise the county’s economic potential, developing a resilience local and regional economy, examining how Clare can enable decentralised employment opportunities, identifying capital investment prospects and the building of “economic confidence”.

Mr Kilkenny maintained “a coordinated approach” was essential in the current economic climate. “The members of the Taskforce have a wealth of experience and knowledge that will help to inform the local and regional response to the challenges that have arisen. Its purpose is to look at the concrete measures that can be taken and, as the name ‘taskforce’ implies, to set ambitious tasks and to work with Clare County Council to ensure that the tasks are completed for the benefit of the economy and people of Clare.”

Dowling highlighted that the group was established “to help Clare get back on its feet by dealing with the aftermath of the impact of Covid-19 on the local economy and by exploring and delivering new opportunities to make Clare different, bigger and better in the future. Our approach will be to join forces, to adapt, to plan our way ahead, and to be bold, resilient and, most of all, positive”.

Proximity to Galway and Limerick, the availability of 18,000 graduates per annum in the region opening up access to a skilled workforce all work in Clare’s favour, Liam Conneally stated. “The county’s accessibility to key infrastructure including the M18, Shannon Airport and the Shannon Estuary presents an opportunity for development. The Taskforce will guide Clare County Council in the delivery of key strategic projects. There are a number of noteworthy projects currently in train, including Ennis 2040, which will drive the physical, social and economic development of the town and county, the Roche Masterplan, the Shannon Town Centre Masterplan and the Shannon Integrated Framework Plan.

“It is anticipated that there will be future ‘cluster’ opportunities in areas such as life sciences, the bioeconomy, financial services, tourism/hospitality and, looking forward, new technologies and the green economy. With the many strategic assets identified in County Clare, the question will be how we maximise those assets for the benefit of the county. This Taskforce provides a forum in which to answer that question,” he added.

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