COMMUNICATION on public realm projects alongside an update for the Ennis 2040 Strategy in an official Clare County Council document is “misleading” while a county councillor has said elected members sitting on the DAC continues to be “a conflict of interest”.
In Clare County Council’s monthly management report for December, the last of the sixty nine pages in the document is titled ‘Ennis 2040 Economic & Spatial Strategy Implementation’.
Ennis Public Realm Update, Ennis Transport Plan Update, Tulla Rd Cycle Scheme, Limerick Rd Cycle Scheme, Public Bus Service Update, Francis Street, Abbey Street, Harvey’s Quay, the Post Office Field masterplan and Urbact IV Action Planning Networks 2023-2025 are the items referenced on this page.
Mentioning items that have no relevance to the Ennis 2040 Strategy was flagged by Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG). “The implementation of the Ennis 2040 strategy through Ennis 2040 DAC has a specific focus, I’m very clear on that, I’m very concerned that a lot of issues have nothing do with it, public realm update, there are two or three projects there that haven’t anything to do with E240 so I object to the way it is formatted,” he said.
Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling responded, “we have strategies and plans for most of the things we do in the Council, we’re based on policy and good strategic planning, that is how we do our business, anything that goes on in Ennis now and into the future falls into the umbrella which we call Ennis 2040, one may not like the mechanism and apparatus we put in place but the strategy stands on its merits. Whatever we do on tourism falls under our tourism strategy, whatever we do for Ennis to develop as a progressive and metropolitan town is under Ennis 2040”.
Dowling continued, “If I misinterpret where we’re going as an organisation, please push me back and say scrap the whole thing. One may not like how we get there but I only care that we can get there, Ennis 2040 is about making Ennis the envy of other town in Ireland. Everything we’re doing in Ennis is provided for in that strategy”.
Preparation of the economic and spatial strategy was done under the Local Government act and not adopted as a legal document, Cllr Flynn stated, “I’m interested as a democrat that we act under statute”. He said the Tulla Rd scheme falls under roads legislation and “has nothing to do with Ennis 2040”. Flynn stressed, “I’m carrying out my duty on behalf of the people I represent” and concluded, “I’ve full confidence in the Executive to deliver on Ennis’ future”.
“It is important to note what you are saying on how we fulfil our actions under law. Ennis 2040 is a strategy we’ve adopted and it is not a legal document, I accept that,” the Chief Executive acknowledged.
On the manner in which it appears in the monthly management report, Cllr Flynn remarked, “it is misrepresented in the fashion it is, it is misleading”.
This prompted Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) to air his concerns with elected members of the Council sitting on the board of Ennis 2040 DAC. He was forced to withdraw a motion regarding the use of Abbey Street car park for the fiftieth anniversary of the Fleadh Nua this June with Cllr Mary Howard (FG) who sits on the DAC’s board interviewed by Clare FM after she led the call for the motion to be withdrawn.
Speaking at the December meeting of the Council, Cllr O’Callaghan said, “Cllr Howard made a statement on radio that Abbey Street car park won’t be interfered with for two years, was that as a Council rep or Board member of 2040 DAC she was making the comments, I believe it is a conflict of interest”. Cllr Howard who clashed with Cllr O’Callaghan on several occasions regarding the strategy did not respond to his comments in the Chamber.
“My best interests are on behalf of the people I represent, these are big significant steps we are taking,” he added. The Clarecastle resident said he was fully behind the tourism strategy led by Leonard Cleary and his team. “On the basis of many years of retail experience I believe I have something to contribute like many others in this Chamber,” O’Callaghan added. “There is nothing wrong with saying a mistake has been made, we’re even calling the Market Building a white elephant. I embrace the Ennis 2040 concept but I do have concerns”.
Public consultation for the Abbey Street plans are expected during the first quarter of 2024 with the concept design to be finalised. A concept design is also to be finalised for Harvey’s Quay with public consultation to follow.
In the update, the Post Office Field was described as “a key amenity and biodiverse area located in the centre of Ennis Town”. A draft masterplan has been completed and is to be brought forward for stakeholder consultation.