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Shannon councillors seek ‘greater transparency’ on operation of GMA

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*Cllr PJ Ryan and Cllr Gerry Flynn spoke on the matter. Photograph: Alan Place

Shannon councillors have expressed their frustration with the operation of the General Municipal Allocation (GMA) citing “a lack of clarity and transparency” in the process.

A total of €1.273m is shared between all 28 councillors in Clare under the GMA which is a funding mechanism for members to support local community initiatives. This is divided among the four Municipal Districts with the West Clare MD receiving the largest amount (€409,179) followed by both the Shannon and Ennis MD (€318,250 each) and the Killaloe MD (€227,321).

Local councillors have previously stated that for every €1 spent on the GMA it resulted in a €3 benefit for the local community. Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling remarked that it has been shown to have “a fivefold benefit”.

Clare County Council were requested by Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) to establish a schedule of works programme for the Shannon MD concerning the GMA detailing an indication of remaining funding available from last year and proposals for 2021. He wished to see more urgency to the application of funding.

Flynn stated, “The current situation is not working as there is a lack of clarity and transparency in my opinion and can be very frustrating when funding is available but not spent in a timely manner. I would also suggest that projects identified by the Elected Members and in most cases in consultation with the Senior Engineer are costed and if sufficient Council workers are not available for this work I would suggest that the work be put out to tender and prioritised for delivery”.

An agreement on the package of measures for funding for the GMA is due to be discussed at a meeting between the Shannon MD and elected representatives, senior executive engineer Tom Mellett outlined. Works agreed will be scheduled for completion in 2021 while he confirmed the programme of works “will also allow for completion of any outstanding works from 2020”.

Holding meetings to discuss the GMA are important, Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) maintained while Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) who seconded the motion commented, “It is always hard to stretch it here and there but we need to work out what we are going to do and what we have done”.

Summaries on total expenditure and remaining balances should be provided at the meeting, Cllr Michael Begley (IND) believed. “Sitting down with the team is very important. Half the battle is won if we can sit down and discuss the issues. We’re all working on the one team, we are the Shannon Municipal District team. Sitting down and discussing it is the only way to sort any issues,” John Crowe (FG) argued.

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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