Four months on from the request of its foundation, a taskforce designed to support staff at Moneypoint has not held a single meeting.
Following a one hour special meeting of the West Clare Municipal District in July, it was decided to form a Council delegation which was comprised of Cllr Ian Lynch (IND), Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF), Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG), Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) and Cllr Roisin Garvey (GP).
They along with the County’s five Oireachtas members, Timmy Dooley (FF), Michael Harty (IND). Pat Breen TD (FG), Joe Carey (FG) and Senator Martin Conway (FG) had intended to meet with Heather Humphreys Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton, the ESB, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.
No meeting of the taskforce has been convened. Speaking at last week’s specially called meeting of Clare County Council to discuss employment, Harty reiterated his view that the potential of Moneypoint as “a deep sea port needs to be managed”. Cllr Garvey told the meeting the Moneypoint askforce was yet to hold a meeting.
“I wondered was I dropped off that email list for the Moneypoint Taskforce, a meeting of that taskforce would be desirable that would formulate a pathway forward and assist at national level on how we could articulate for the future,” Senator Conway responded.
“We talk about regional imbalance for the county but it exists within Clare. Moneypoint has been the counterbalance in West Clare and provided a lot of economic opportunities,” Cllr Murphy outlined. “We need to stop talking about it and start doing something as Cllr Garvey alluded to. Moneypoint is probably the last zoned industrial site on the Shannon Estuary, we have to hammer home the opportunity that it provides,” the Kilkee councillor added.
Speaking on Moneypoint removing the “counterbalance” as referred to, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) maintained supporting the Ennis 2040 plan “which Clare County Council has financially supported in terms of research” would help other parts of the county, “Our focus to try and sustain North and West Clare needs to include fully backing the Ennis 2040 Plan”. He continued, “To sustain West and North Clare, we need to have significant job growth in the county”.
Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling said of future plans at Moneypoint, “We are very much involved in that space”. Deputy Joe Carey wrote to the Chief Executive at the end of July following representations made to both Bruton and Humphreys, “There is huge potential in relation to Moneypoint, we can put together a meaningful taskforce”.
Junior Minister Pat Breen insisted, “There is a future for Moneypoint”, he stated it would continue to burn coal “at a limited capacity for the next three years” and felt biomass was “a serious option” for the site. Harty stressed that the taskforce “needs to be reactivated” and that they were waiting on ESB “to produce a strategic plan for Moneypoint”.