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Power of flowers in Ennis

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Flowers and councillors from the Ennis Municipal District, who knew it was such a complicated love story.

This relationship first came to light at the June meeting of the EMD when a motion from Ann Norton led to a forty five minute debate. In total the meeting lasted for one hour and fifty minutes, other motions focused on traffic calming measures, public transport, local facilities, buskers and beggars but none were devoted as much time as the flowers.

Cllr Ann Norton asked what happened to the winter bulbs, spring primroses and summer flowers when they die. “If you go outside the council gardening centre you will see a big pile of flowers that are left to compost. What a waste”. She suggested, “plant three quarters of the beds with shrubs all the bed or three quarters of the beds with these and leave one quarter for seasonal flowers, this would save money long-term”.

In a detailed response, Acting Executive Engineer Gráinne Reddan outlined that “perennials are not suitable for planting in all areas and are more susceptible to wind damage causing a lack of uniformity in the structure of the plant”. They “do not maintain a long flower period like bedding flowers”. Bedding flowers have proven to be popular with adjudicators for the Tidy Towns and Reddan also pointed out that “when the seasons are over the flowers are composted and the soil is reused in garden beds which maintains soil fertility”.

Fine Gael’s Johnny Flynn stated that rate payers in Ennis were asked to pay increased rates to improve the appearance of the town. He then said car parks in the town centre generate half a million each year and was interrupted by Cllr James Breen who asked “what has this to with flowers, come off the fence and say if you’re for or against the motion”.

“The budget” replied Flynn before Breen retorted “We’re talking about flowers not budgets”. Cllr Flynn then expressed his view that he “would have difficulty with reducing the quality of what is being offered in Ennis” and said the information he was trying to point out was “funding has always been made available for this”.

Chairing his last meeting of the district, Cllr Paul Murphy commented “Ann you stirred the hornets nest here today, colour or no colour”. “I didn’t put this motion in willy nilly”, Cllr Norton replied, she was happy with answer provided from the Council. Her fellow Independent councillor, James Breen proposed that the status quo apply. “I’ve said it in the Chamber for years, just look at the beauty of Ennis, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

Fianna Fáil’s Tom McNamara felt “the motion will do nothing if anything it will improve the colour. Breen repeated his calls for the status quo to apply leading Cllr Murphy to ask where they happy with the reply. Ann Norton said it would “reduce work” and Mary Howard worried “it could take a job away”. Cllr Flynn stated he was opposed to the motion because of the three quarters reduction.

For the third time, Breen asked for the status quo to apply. Cllr Pat Daly said the discussion was “embarrassing” prompting Cllr Breen to ask him was he for or against the motion. Daly replied, “Standing orders state that when the person is happy with reply there should be no vote”. To which the Kilnamona councillor responded, “There is nothing in the standing orders stating that, quote it for me”. “There’s more important things in the town, this is a joke”, replied Daly.

Council Director Carmel Kirby queried to see if the councillors were happy with the response. Councillors Johnny Flynn, James Breen and Mary Howard all pointed out objections they had with the motion. Cllr Murphy then appealed to Cllr Norton to alter the wording of her motion but she refused. The motion then went to a vote and was passed five votes to three.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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