*Cllr Donna McGettigan and Cllr Gerry Flynn. Photograph: John Mangan

ASPECTS OF THE ENNIS 2040 Strategy have been described as “ludicrous” by an elected representative while a member of the Francis Street Alliance has called for the DAC working to implement the plans to be scrapped.

Public ire has been stoked with the decision passed at the March meeting of the Ennis Municipal District which saw a narrow vote (4-3) passed to back plans to construct a temporary car park on Francis Street and demolish six properties at an estimated cost of €1m.

Plans for a €25m mixed-use development to include retail and accommodation on Abbey Street car park in Ennis has also left members of the public vexed.

Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) who chairs the Social Development SPC on Clare County Council which has responsibility for housing said of the plans, “It’s ludicrous and I don’t know what Clare County Council are up to, there’s more than the six houses because there’s capability on that site for a further fourteen houses, you could get twenty such houses on the site”.

Shannon based Flynn called on the Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling to intervene. “I think the Chief Executive of Clare County Council needs to wake up to what’s happening here in this town of Ennis, I think it’s not right to have a private company like the DAC running Ennis, it’s one thing having them run the Cliffs of Moher but it’s another thing to have them running what is our capital town, it’s our town, a town of people living on the periphery as well as in the heart of the town, we’re trying to promote getting feet on the street and people living in the heart of Ennis which is Government policy, that’s very important because it can put life back into the town. When Abbey St is closed, they will put a monstrosity on it, then they will have a temporary car park where we’re trying to save houses and then in four years that will be gone, we’ll have no car park and no houses. It is time to do a quick reverse on this, I would appeal to the Chief Executive to change his mind”.

He was in the public gallery at the April meeting of the Ennis MD where a proposal from Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG), Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) and Cllr Pat Daly (FF) to pause the Abbey St plans was defeated. “I wasn’t impressed by the meeting and how it was run, I’m saying that as Chair of Standing Orders for Clare County Council. They cannot be taking votes retrospectively when a motion is passed and carried which they did”.

Spokesperson for the Francis Street Alliance, Tommy Guilfoyle who also sits on the Social Development SPC believed the entire strategy needed to be scrapped. “I think the DAC should be disbanded and it should be stopped. I think the building and growing of our town and county should be left in the hands of people elected by the people, not a private company where the public have no say really other than sitting councillors who act as a member of the Board of that company, not as a councillor, as a councillor in the Chamber they have to act as a councillor but when you go on the board of a company you become a member of the board”.

Guilfoyle added, “The DAC’s first throw of the dice was a data centre in the middle of a water and energy crisis, their second throw of the dice is building a temporary car park over houses in a housing crisis and the third throw of the dice is to give more commercial units in a town which has numerous empty commercial units in a cost of living crisis. This is wrong, we’re saying stop, the people of Ennis and Clare are saying stop so I hope the councillors are listening”.

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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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