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Plans to erect a new statue in Ennistymon have been paused by Clare County Council following local backlash in the past week.

A public engagement is to be initiated by the local authority in light of the concerns expressed in Ennistymon on the proposal Púca of Ennistymon sculpture which was estimated to cost €30,000.

Following local objections to the Artist Sculpture concept, Clare County Council will review the submissions received and will engage in a listening process with the local community over the coming weeks, a spokesperson confirmed to The Clare Echo.

On Monday afternoon, the local authority confirmed to The Clare Echo that the process to put the sculpture in place has been paused with details of a full review to be published in the near future.

The Púca was one of 18 submissions received following advertisement of an artist’s brief earlier this year. It was selected by an adjudication panel comprising a community representative, an independent artist, the project manager for the Ennistymon scheme and Clare County Council’s Arts Office. It was inspired by the equine heritage and Irish folklore of Ennistymon.

€500,000 has been allocated towards the overall street improvement project by Fáilte Ireland under the Destination Towns Programme, with the Local Authority providing an additional 25 per cent match funding. The addition of the sculpture is part of the capital investment aimed at increasing visitor dwell time in the North Clare town along with improving and developing signage, pedestrian access and significant additional car parking.

Development of two car parks at Monastery Lane was referenced by a Council spokesperson plus the process of adding a third car park as proposed by the local community. “There has been overwhelmingly positive support for the overall tourism destination town project with strong input. As is the norm in public capital contracts, a small portion of the project is assigned towards the commissioning of a public artwork. This was included for this Ennistymon town project”.

Under the capital project, the County Council are confident that can progress “Ennistymon’s untapped potential from being a transit zone, that people pass through, to a destination where visitors want to stay longer and experience the local culture”.

Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District, Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) believed the decision to pause and seek greater community input was the correct one. “Really excellent work, investment and progress has been made in our area over the last number of years with much more to come so I say focus on the positives, ensure full engagement with the process on the art work and good things will continue to be delivered”.

He acknowledged that improvement is needed when it comes to the Council’s level of community engagement and public consultation. “It is ironic and really challenging in the age of instant social media that clear and full communication of many things is seemingly harder than ever”.

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