*Save Ennis Town chairman, Gearoid Mannion. Photograph: Tom Micks
REPRESENTATIVES OF SAVE ENNIS TOWN are hopeful their silent march on Tuesday morning will lead to the commencement of talks between them and Ennis 2040 DAC.
Formed following a public meeting in May, Save Ennis Town is opposed to two of the nine transformational projects identified in the Ennis 2040 Strategy, namely plans for mixed-use office and retail developments on car parks in Abbey Street and Harvey’s Quay.
In the region of 200 people partook in a silent march from Abbey Street Car Park to the offices of Clare County Council on Tuesday morning. Chairman of Save Ennis Town, Gearoid Mannion said they were “delighted” with the turnout. “There is a large number of retailers who closed their premises for an hour or two just to support the cause, we’re delighted with that. We have taxi drivers, concerned citizens, the elderly and some councillors, we’re very happy with the turnout. It is a silent protest but we want to make our concerns known to all and sundry, we’re very concerned about the proposal to build on the car parks in the centre of town, that is our primary concern”.
Save Ennis Town support the majority of the aspirations of Ennis 2040 except the building on car parks. “There is plenty in the Ennis 2040 plans that we agree with, we’re for progress in the town, we believe in the town and we believe in the future of the town, we’re very concerned about the car parks being basically obliterated, the car is part of the future whether people like it or not, we may be driving electric cars into the future but many of us will still be driving cars, we need places to park for people coming to work, shop or visit the town, we need parking”.
In order for the group to support the plans, parking must form a central part, the travel counsellor stated. “It would want to be a significant modification and some parking provided but they seem to have a blind spot for parking, that is where we’re at now at the moment, it remains to be seen how this transpires in the end”.
Along with the taxi drivers and business owners, ordinary citizens rowed in behind the cause on Tuesday morning. “There is a lot of what I’d call Townies and elderly citizens of the town of Ennis, it is great to see them here, they are concerned for the town of Ennis, we’re delighted with the support we are getting from them, the weather has been kind to us but we need to make our voices heard and that is what we’re doing here today,” Gearoid stated.
Both Save Ennis Town and Ennis 2040 DAC have clashed on their differing viewpoints with the labelling of Save Ennis Town as “a protest group” by a spokesperson for the DAC a previous bone of contention. “It’s pretty clear that we’re not rioters and we’re not protesters per se, I don’t believe they will ignore us, I believe it would be foolish of them not to take our concerns on board, our concerns are very legitimate and very measured, we have the future of the town of Ennis at heart, Ennis 2040 claims to have the same and I believe they do, I believe we will be listened to eventually”.
Mannion told The Clare Echo there has been no offer from Ennis 2040 DAC to date to meet with representatives of their group to discuss their concerns. “We are hopeful that it will happen in the near future”. Their petition with over 3,500 signatures opposing the plans made him optimistic that such a meeting will be held.
In response to queries from The Clare Echo on whether it would be willing to meet with representatives of Save Ennis Town following on from the silent march, a spokesperson for Ennis 2040 DAC stated, “Clare County Council and Ennis 2040 will hold a comprehensive public consultation before any proposed development takes shape once draft plans become available, giving everyone the opportunity to submit their feedback and share their views. Ennis 2040 D.A.C. / Clare County Council will be happy to meet with interested parties and stakeholders during the consultation phase when draft designs are available to inform meaningful discussions. Feedback received during the consultation process will be considered in any future proposed design and development”.