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*Photograph: Martin Connolly

Ennis has been touted as a potential location for a decentralisation hub to accommodate staff from Government agencies such as Revenue or the TII.

Approaches to relevant Government departments to develop a decentralisation hub in Ennis was proposed by Cllr Ann Norton (IND) at a recent meeting of the Ennis Municipal District.

A joint reply from senior enterprise development officer Linda Earlier and head of information systems Urban McMahon insisted that Clare County Council was committed to the creation of jobs through the DigiClare initiative.

Delivery of an additional 5,000 jobs by 2040 is targeted in the Ennis 2040 Economic and Spatial Strategy, they flagged. “In this regard, nine transformational sites have been identified to support this growth strategy. Within the transformational sites identified, there is opportunity and scope to develop a range of commercial, enterprise and office accommodation suitable for inward investment, start-ups and remote workers or organisations in cities looking to de-centralise to facilitate staff working remotely”.

Construction of the Ennis Digitial Hub is nearing completion, McMahon outlined. This facility will provide remote working facilities, hotdesks, business incubation units, meeting and training rooms. The development of an innovation enterprise centre is also at an advanced stage. “Should a Government department wish to de-centralise, the Ennis 2040 Economic and Spatial Strategy will be instrumental in guiding and facilitating suitable locations for such development”.

At a Government level plans to source decentralization hubs for staff within Revenue and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is to be examined, Cllr Norton stated which would offer them the possibility of working remotely on an ongoing basis. “They want to give people the option of being able to work from home by introducing hubs to accommodate them to get out of the house without travelling outside of the county”.

Offering a hub of this nature would be a “fantastic asset”, the Barefield representative maintained. “We have so many restaurants and cafes, we have the ability to feed and allow people to have their meetings. As things are starting to reopen, we need to support these businesses to get themselves back up and running”.

Support for the proposal was voiced by Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) who recalled “an unfortunate negative history” with previous efforts to decentralise Government in the past. Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) believed the motion showed “very forward thinking”.

Ennis’ absence of a digital hub was lamented by Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG), “It is very frustrating that four years on from request digital hub, none have opened in Ennis”.

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