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A Kilmurry representative has clarified that he does not engage in black magic following a slip of the tongue at Monday’s meeting of Clare County Council.

“I do use black magic or park magic, sorry black magic is sweets or something,” Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) commented while putting forward a proposal alongside Cllr Mary Howard (FG) and Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) to facilitate payment via card at car parks across the county.

Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) was first to pull up the publican on his blunder, “I didn’t know you practiced it,” he quipped in reference to the black magic. “ParkMagic Mayor,” O’Callaghan clarified.

Use of card and mobile phones for transactions is becoming more common, O’Callaghan outlined. “In Ennis, if you didn’t have change in the car, you find it very hard to pay for parking, if you only had notes you have to buy something in a shop to get change back”. Fifteen to twenty minutes is being ‘wasted’ by members of the public trying to sort payment via coins and cash, he said.

There was no need for the former Deputy Mayor to cast any spells to try twist the arm of Council officials with administrative officer, Liam O’Connor confirming than “an extensive review” of car parking across Clare is to be undertaken in 2022. Digital parking options will be considered, “these payment options are likely to include an online app and parking meters that can accept both coin and card payments”. Promotion of payment online will be encouraged as an online option “leading to greater efficiencies with reduced maintenance costs, coin collection costs and reduced safety implications associated with the collection and counting of coin”.

Allowing people to ‘tap’ to pay would be “sensible and practical,” Cllr Howard believed. It can be “very difficult” to source change at present, Cllr McMahon flagged, “in order to get change you’ve to buy something to open the till but business people are reluctant to give it because it is scarce”.

Using the app ParkMagic is “quite difficult,” Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) felt. “With the technology that is there, people are taking the chance of not paying and we’re missing out on massive revenue”.

Over a twelve month period from 2012 to 2013, €1.3m in revenue was sourced from parking charges in Ennis, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) flagged with an expenditure of €300,000 leaving the local authority with a return of €1m. “Maintenance of machines has slipped, I have noticed people doing long-term parking without paying for it. We need the review to enforce parking by-laws and have easiest options available”. He maintained the introduction of paying via card could see a return to the “levels of finance the Ennis Town used to enjoy”.

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