*Photograph: Eamon Ward
ONE OF ENNIS’ most controversial buildings has been forced to close due to anti-social behaviour.
Instances of drug-taking and drinking have been reported at the Market Building in Ennis in recent times leading the local authority to take the decision to temporarily restrict its access to the public.
Built at a cost of €500,000 as part of a €1.75m redevelopment, the Market Building in Ennis has continued to struggle to attract traders with its primary function now as a car park with 27 spaces, a figure that has reduced in the past fortnight.
A spokesperson for Clare County Council told The Clare Echo, “In very recent times, concerns were raised around public welfare issues at the building. In this regard, the decision was made to temporarily close the building so that these concerns can be appropriately addressed and we are engaging with the relevant authorities. This has reduced the amount of available parking from 27 to 12”.
Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND) told The Clare Echo that the amount of money spent on the Market Building was “a disgrace”. He said the Office Of The Comptroller & Auditor General would not be able to stand over the money spent by the local authority on the building. “In total there was €1.5m spent and what is there to show for this wider project other than a statue that was moved from the market and this building which nobody is bothered to use. Has anything been sold there other than drugs”.
Deputy McNamara continued, “It serves no useful purpose as it stands. I think questions really need to be asked of how this building came about and what level of democratic and financial oversight there was because Clare County Council can’t continue to waste money”.
In a statement to The Clare Echo, the Council said, “The original aim of the project was to provide a covered space which would aid a process of regeneration of the market area, and add to the vitality of the area. The design sought to provide a balance between the existing character of the area, whilst having a modern multi-purpose structure that would facilitate the following, Market: a location for licensed traders to promote their quality food and craft produce, Car Park: On non-trading / non event days, the facility provides 27 car parking spaces, A location for the hosting of community / festival events”.
Building and public realm improvements were completed in full in August 2016 prior to the
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ennis.
“Approximately two thirds of the costs of the project related to public realm enhancements in the vicinity, which improved pedestrian accessibility, junction arrangements and the safety of all road users. In the more than 7 years since the building opened it has been used on numerous occasions for one off markets and by various community groups. Furthermore, it provides an income from car parking to the Council on an annual basis,” the spokesperson added.
Reports that the Council are to consider hiring a security company to police the building are not true, the spokesperson said.