*Cllr Joe Garrihy. Photograph: Eamon Ward
Strong criticism has been voiced by North and West Clare councillors over the local authority’s interaction with communities on the County Development Plan 2022 – 2028.
An appeal was issued by Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) at a recent sitting of the West Clare Municipal District for the Director of Economic Development, his team, the senior planner, the Director of Rural Development and West Clare MD acting senior executive officer to “visit each small town and large village and give opportunities to the local communities to present their priorities for sustainable development” as part of the plan.
Acting senior planner, Helen Quinn in a written reply detailed that preparation for the Clare County Development Plan 2022-2028 commenced in September 2020, with the first public consultation held a month later. “This first round of public consultation saw 194 written submissions being received from the public and various stakeholders between the 18th September and the 16th November 2020”.
She stated, “It would not be feasible for an event to be held in every town or large village within this public consultation period, however, I assure you that there will be in person events held in each MD area across the county as well as all the other online measures proposed and all efforts will be made to engage with communities in a safe and comprehensive manner and to facilitate submission being made on the upcoming Draft Plan”.
Cllr Garrihy disputed the feasibility of detailed engagement with the public. “There is a perfect window of opportunity that aligns here. The answer at the end I’m getting is no and that there isn’t time or feasibility for the Director of Planning to visit towns and villages in North Clare, that is not acceptable. That answer isn’t good enough for something as significant as our County Development Plan”.
He added, “The people of our county deserve something more than social media interaction for a plan running up to 2028”.
Support for Garrihy’s request was echoed by Cllr Joe Killeen (FF), “surely a visit to the towns and villages would be informative and would create positivity for next County Development Plan”.
Rural West Clare is dealing with school closures and people moving towards Ennis, Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) commented. “I have a concern with what is going on. Somebody will have to tackle it at some stage. We did have a get-together in Carrigaholt and Cooraclare. We have our digital hub in Cross, it is a major start for people, kids will be left in the local crèche, there will be remote working and it will bring more people into the village”.