Pictured at the official opening of the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme were Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan TD (right), with ex Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan (centre), and Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling (left).

“AD-HOC PARKING” and absence of barriers are posing health and safety risks at a new walking trail in Ennis which is proving increasingly popular.

A review of parking arrangements at the Clareabbey end of the Fergus Riverwalk was sought by Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) at the July meeting of the Ennis Municipal District. “This amenity is being used by huge volumes of people which is fantastic, but emergency services may have problems getting in if something isn’t done to sort out the ad-hoc nature of parking that currently exists,” he flagged.

Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan (FG) officially opened the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme on June 21st.

The scheme consists of the construction of two 1.2m culverts, a pumpstation, upgrading of the existing sluices, a new piled flood defence wall for a distance of 1.2km along the town side bank of the River Fergus and a riverwalk. It provides protection from flooding to the residential areas of Ballybeg, Clareabbey and Toberteascáin as well as St Flannan’s College and the Quin Road Business Park.

In response to Murphy’s request, senior executive engineer, Eamon O’Dea said the land ownership between the N85 and the Clareabbey access road on the Clareabbey Roundabout side of the railway line “to confirm if there is a suitable location for the provision of parking facilities for persons using the Fergus Riverwalk. Once this is established a funding mechanism needs to be considered for any proposal”.

Although he admitted the “parking situation at Clareabbey isn’t life or death,” Cllr Murphy noted the “fantastic” use of the Riverwalk. “I’ve walked it a number of times and now incorporate into my regular cycling route, the volume of people on it at 6:30am and 7am has blown me away with the amount of use it is getting, I would love to put in a traffic counter to see the use it gets”.

He acknowledged the loop was safe and off-road but highlighted, “the piece of road as you go up over the hump, cars can be parking in an ad-hoc nature, I would be concerned if the emergency services needed to get access”.

Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) described the amenity as “a fantastic resource” with the potential of linking to Ballyalla. He brought “another health and safety issue” to the attention of Council officials, pointing out that on the Quin Rd side of Riverwalk, “a number of children run straight onto road” as he suggested a barrier be put in place.

Both issues have been raised by constituents, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) remarked. “Children on scooters or bikes have got into false sense of security coming from the protected area, they could come out too fast”.

Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) told the meeting, “I use it almost daily, I feel very safe on it, it is very quiet. It is unfortunate that we’ve a new amenity and we now have to restrict access for safety but we also don’t want to make it unattractive for cyclists”. The Ballybeg resident praised the new addition of a sound system reminding dog owners to pick up after their pets.

Addressing the meeting, O’Dea said he would revert to the project management office regarding access by the Quin Rd. A section by the waterway and road “might be suitable” for walkers “coming from a distance,” he surmised.

Senior executive officer, Leonore O’Neill agreed with the sentiments of the Mayor that they must be “mindful about not putting barriers for cyclists”.

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