*John O’Connor speaks from the floor. Photograph: Chris Copley
A VOLUNTARY GROUP has been established to fight against plans from the Ennis 2040 DAC to remove public car-parking in Abbey Street and Parnell Street.
Save Ennis Town – Safeguarding the past, present and future of Ennis Town for all’ held its first meeting on Monday evening on O’Connell Street. The group was formed off the back of a public meeting last Thursday where close to 200 people attended to voice their opposition to plans to build a mixed-use development on Abbey Street car park.
Community, business and elected representatives along with concerned residents comprise the membership of the group. Current members include John O’Connor, Gearoid Mannion, Bridget Ginnitty, Cora Hahessy, Michelle O’Connell, Teresa McGrath, Aoife Madden, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG), Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) and Cllr Pat Daly (FF).
Speaking to The Clare Echo, John O’Connor of Custy’s Music Shop said the group was “representative of Ennis as a society”. He said they were adamant no building should proceed on Abbey Street car park. “We envisage for the town a healthy evolving town, we’re not luddites, we’re not happy with a situation that doesn’t involve progress but we’re seriously unhappy about a situation which to us and anyone at the meeting is total insanity which is building on one of the few areas in the town centre, it affects business”.
He felt people “were shocked” with the lack of information they have on the Ennis 2040 Strategy. O’Connor believed “spin” had been put out by both the Ennis 2040 DAC and Clare County Council. “They’re economical with the truth to the detriment of the real truth, if you try and put a massive shopping complex in that place that isn’t accessible for HGV or have required parking it will lead to commercial euthanasia”.
“When you look at US politics, the lovely line is ‘it’s the economy stupid’, here in Ennis, the line is it’s the parking stupid,” he remarked. John believed the shift to encouraging people to use other means of transport is purely aspirational, he said he cycles into the county town every morning, “it is lethal, somebody who sprays red paint on a roundabout and thinks that make things okay, it is lunacy, it is like a pinball machine”.
As part of their work, he said Save Ennis Town will contact all councillors. John claimed the antics by the local authority on this issue “is not democracy at work. It is the tail wagging the dog”.
Cllr Flynn pointed out that the Council does not have a good track record in building public carparks in the town, “one expensive existing Council built white elephant is more than enough in Ennis,” he commented.