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Rates reduction sought by Clare councillors

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*Sky Court Shopping Centre in Shannon. Photograph: John Mangan

Concessions including the approval of a rates reduction is being sought for Clare businesses.

An investigation to sanction a pro-rate rates reduction for businesses that have been forced to shut as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has been requested by three elected representatives of Clare County Council.

A joint motion signed by Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF), Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) and Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) is to go before the April meeting of the local authority. They are seeking some aid be provided to businesses through the introduction of concessions.

Last year, Kilkee restaurant Murphy Blacks which was owned by Cllr Murphy and his wife Mary closed. The impact of a closure order is one he is well aware of. “As someone who has spent over 25 years in the pub and restaurant sectors I understand better than most the effect of this closure order, and although I totally agree with the policy, it is going to hit the small customer facing businesses, and their staff, very hard. Once again, they are bearing the brunt of a situation completely outside of their control”.

“There are many things that are completely outside the sphere of influence of Clare County Council, this however, is something that we are in control of, so I think it is only appropriate that the local authority steps up, in whatever way we can, to help out as much as we can. This debate is needed so we all clearly understand what the cost to Clare County Council will be and the implications it will have on the program of works for the future”.

Knock-on effects to the Council budget are expected by Cllr Lynch but it is a necessary move, the Kilrush representative outlined. “These unprecedented times present uncertainty for us all with many unknowns still yet to play out. The recent measures across the globe will impact local, national and global economies. Our traditional way of going to work requires us to be more dynamic to react to situations as the arise. We accept that this motion will have a knock on effect on the council budget but small businesses are the lifeblood of council revenue and must be protected to ensure our recovery and the future”.

Mayor of Ennis, Cllr Flynn maintained the rates reduction was needed for “social and business solidarity”. “I have been on the streets over the last few days and see the independent small businesses that have had to close. Clare County Council should as a sign of social and business solidarity look seriously at providing a pro rata rates reduction scheme for small and medium businesses forced to close during this national emergency. Like Cillian, my wife and I have been in pharmacy business for twenty eight years and as ratepayers support the services that Clare County Council provide. It is imperative that this support and others from Government are in place to ensure as many as possible of these businesses can re-open to provide local employment,” the Mayor of Ennis stated.

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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