A GROUP of local representatives who are against plans for the development of Abbey Street Car Park believe that no meaningful consultation has taken place with the public.
Bridget Ginnity, a member of Save Ennis Town, believes that if the public wait until planning is lodged to voice their concerns through public consultation, it will be too late to stop the development from progressing.
“We actually think it’s great having an Ennis 2040 plan and a strategy and taking that time to step back and say, what do we want? What’s good for the town? But we feel these plans have been made without that discussion among all the interested parties, which is the businesses, the local people, and all the people of the county because it is the county town and it impacts a lot of people coming into it,” Ms Ginnity told The Clare Echo.
Save Ennis Town is a group drawn from the general public including community, business, retail and political representatives. It formed after a public meeting on May 4 in the Temple Gate Hotel and aims to have constructive engagement with Ennis 2040 DAC and develop a plan that will “enhance our town for everyone”.
Last week, Save Ennis Town sent a letter to all members of Clare County Council outlining their concerns about elements of the Ennis 2040 Strategy, in particular the proposed commercial developments in Abbey St. Car Park and Harvey’s Quay.
Its members include Gearoid Mannion (chair), Edel Cassidy, Joan Duggan, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG), Bridget Ginnity; Aoife Madden, Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF), Cllr Pat Daly (FF), John O’Connor and Feargal Ó Dúlaing to name a few.
Bridget Ginnity is a member of the Green Party and is expected to run in next year’s local elections. A chemistry scientist by trade, the Kildare native has been involved with Ennis Book Club and is a regular swimmer in Ballyalla with the Ballyalla Bravehearts.
She is eager to see climate-related aspects as core to all council developments and states she is “very concerned about town development and the town being a good place to live”.
Plans for a data centre on the Tulla Road first sparked Bridget’s concerns in relation to Ennis 2040, stating that it “is the worst thing possible for Ennis and as a member of the Green Party we have put in an appeal to An Bord Pleanala in that regard”.
“If everybody in Ennis reduced their emissions to zero by 2030, that data centre would completely undo all our savings”.
One subject that unites all members of Save Ennis Town is their opposition to large-scale development at Abbey Street Car Park and Harvey’s Quay.
“Oppositional is an unfortunate word to use. We are all aiming – and I believe the people who have done the Ennis 2040 plan – are also aiming for a good Ennis, a better Ennis. We just have different ideas as to what that means. Some people think a multi-storey office block in the Abbey Street Car Park is the way to achieve that. I feel it could kill the centre of the town, especially if it’s half empty.
“Consultation can be a box-ticking exercise and we really don’t want that. We feel there has been no consultation and it’s too important a thing to go ahead, the ramifications are so significant.
“Some aspects [of Ennis 2040] are wonderful. I love the idea of the wetlands parallel to Clonroad. What’s said in the text is very good, all about being climate adaptive and a 10-minute town but the riverside, it’s such a unique town with medieval streets and to build a multi-storey office block on Abbey Street and two blocks in Parnell Street, who would benefit is what I would ask? Maybe the people working on the top floor will have lovely views of the river and the town, but for the rest of us that space which is there would be gone and at the moment it’s providing vital carparking for the businesses”.
When put to Ms Ginnity that Ennis 2040 is attempting to fulfil a vision to make Ennis Ireland’s first climate adaptive town, which would potentially attract investment to the town, she responds, “Data centre. Data centre. Data centre. How anybody can write a chapter, on what they have written about being climate adaptive, and put a data centre as their jewel in the crown. Do they know what climate adaptive means? If they do that, we are not a climate adaptive town”.