*Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) and Cllr Mary Howard (FG). Photograph: Martin Connolly

BOARD member of the Ennis 2040 DAC, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) has hit out at the criticism of the economic and spatial strategy by her party colleague, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG).

Tuesday’s meeting of the Ennis Municipal District saw Cllr Howard take aim at Cllr Flynn who has previously announced he is to retire from local politics this June.

While voicing his support to a proposal from Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) to put renewed emphasis on the climate adaptive aspects of the Ennis 2040 strategy, Cllr Flynn admitted he was “so disappointed that the guiding principles” of the Ennis 2040 strategy were not taken on board.

He stated, “Since I resigned, I stated the first thing that should have been done was to develop wetlands and Ennis as first climate adaptive town, I’ve looked at the plan and the timelines and the timelines were pushed out way too far”. Flynn who resigned from the Board of the DAC in September 2022 added, “I am very disappointed that these guidelines and principles were not implemented”.

Responding to this, Cllr Howard who has been on the Board of Ennis 2040 DAC since its establishment pointed out, “this is the document launched by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, you were very much front and centre at the time of the launch and you were Mayor of the Ennis MD following the local elections in 2019”.

Clarification was sought by Cllr Flynn on whether his party colleague was talking to him or through the chair. Standing orders only allow for a second contribution from a councillor if they have not proposed the motion when they are spoken directly to.

Confirming that she was speaking directly to her Fine Gael colleague, Cllr Howard reminded Cllr Flynn that he was Mayor in 2019 “and I remember you talking about this, you were involved with Liam Conneally and you were part of the steering group, you filled me in when I came in as Mayor of Clare in 2020, then Ann (Norton) came in as Mayor of the Ennis MD and the document was officially launched, it hasn’t changed”.

She continued, “What is happening with Ennis 2040 isn’t news to you, you were involved with the project, I find it very confusing that you know have a difficulty with it, I find it very confusing, you left because of the issue with the Data Centre but all of a sudden I find it very confusing that you were involved from the get-go, you drew up the document”.

Flynn corrected his colleague, “I didn’t draw up the document. It was a guidance document drawn up by Avison Young for a cost of €600,000”. He said, “I engaged fully as Mayor and as a councillor, it is a 250 page document and I agree with a lot of it. I can’t because of having signed business confidentiality agreements discuss what was said at the board meetings. I left because the twelve guiding principles were not followed”.

Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) told the meeting, “everyone in this room wants Ennis to drive forward”. He added, “There’s no point shouting across the room, there will be another day for that” to which Cllr Howard pointed out that she was not shouting.

Once again, Cllr Ann Norton (IND) aired her view that the media have been negative with their portrayal of the county town. “I questioned Ennis 2040 at the beginning and asked Liam Conneally to give more detail on the project. I think it was appreciated that he gave us clarification, I just wonder over the last number of months and years as a town we are trying to progress Ennis, we are very lucky to have the capital of the county in our MD but unfortunately there has been a lot of negative publicity around Ennis over the last number of months and year or so which is not doing Ennis any favours in the media and across the country, we need to start focusing on the positive of what Ennis is about and what we can achieve for Ennis, there is so many different DACs within Clare County Council and within Ireland”.

Barefield based Norton who also sits on the board of the Ennis 2040 DAC added, “We’re doing an injustice to the people in Ennis and Clare by the negative publicity going on”. She stated, “We now have children that are young adults that need jobs into the future, if we don’t have jobs for them here they will have to emigrate and we’re doing an injustice to the youth of today, they must start to look positively on Ennis and what it can do”.

Comments from Cllr Norton were “disrespectful,” Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) felt. He pointed out that councillors had gone well away from discussing Cllr Murphy’s motion and entered “a political minefield. I’m on the road canvassing and on every third door it (Ennis 2040) is an issue, stick to the sentiment of the motion. I take disrespect to the comment that people are damaging things, if there’s solutions and issues to address deal with them in a mannerly manner”.

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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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