*Cllr Johnny Flynn. Photograph: John Mangan

CLLR JOHNNY Flynn (FG) is bowing out of politics but he has promised go “as far as I can” to stop the planned development for riverside car parks in the county proceeding as part of the Ennis 2040 strategy.

An initial board member of the Ennis 2040 DAC, Cllr Flynn resigned from his position in September 2022 due to opposition to the inclusion of the Ennis Data Centre in the economic and spatial strategy.

Since leaving the board, Cllr Flynn has become one of the strongest critics of the DAC and its actions. Board members have signed confidentiality agreements to uphold the decisions of Ennis 2040 DAC and protect the financial interests of the company.

Private companies decisions are made by unelected Board members who sign as I did confidentiality agreements to uphold its decisions and protect the financial interests of the company.

First elected in 2004 to Ennis Town Council, Cllr Flynn outlined, “I’ve been lucky to serve for twenty years but the last number of years I’ve found very difficult”. He said statutory documents must go through a statutory process but flagged that the Ennis 2040 strategy has no statutory basis.

A silent march which presented 3,700 signatures to the Ennis Municipal District from Save Ennis Town opposing plans for mixed-use developments on Abbey Street and Parnell Street car parks “was ignored,” Flynn claimed.

Addressing the crowd from the Daniel O’Connell Monument, Cllr Flynn stated, “We standing here on the footsteps of people who fought for democracy for all – to vote and elect public representatives answerable to the public to make decisions for the common good of Ennis and Clare. Ennis for centuries has had an elected body or council established under Irish law to run the business of the town to the best of its ability, meetings and decisions were made in public by local politicians answerable to the public.

“The county manager or as he is called the Chief Executive Pat Dowling created a private company Ennis 2040 DAC which is bound not by local government law but by company law. Its only shareholder is Clare County Council i.e. the Chief Executive, it is not answerable to councillors,” the Ennis native added.

Initial commitments that the Abbey Street development would go through the part eight planning process have not been kept, he said. “We now know Ennis 2040 DAC are bypassing the local democratic planning process and applying directly to An Bord Pleanála. There is no appeal process available to a decision other than through a judicial review. Now that I’m stepping away from politics, I’ll be going as far as I can to ensure the town is protected”.

€2.2m has been spent to date as part of the Ennis 2040 strategy by consultants. He said the plans for Abbey Street car park were prepared last year but they have not been shown to elected representatives of the Ennis Municipal District or the public.

Parking deficits in the town centre were also flagged by the former Mayor of Ennis. He said there is a shortfall of 2,000 parking spaces in the town “as a result of developments over the last three decades and failure on the council to build promised carparks. Various public surveys of consumers and business owners in Ennis confirms that shortfall exists”.

Plans to develop under 200 spaces at the Cloister as part of an agreement with Clare GAA “only deal with a tenth of the shortfall,” he noted. “The idea of building a number of €25 multimillion multi-storey boxes on 128 carparking and civic space in Abbey Street and on 70 spaces and the town’s only taxi rank is as a colleague of mine said is not only “bonkers” but is “bananas”,” he said.

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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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