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Shannon grass cutting contractors to be kept under pressure

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*Photograph: Shannon Tidy Towns

Contractors hired by Clare County Council to carry out maintenance work across the county have been warned that they may not receive payment for their work if it is not conducted to standard.

Director of Economic Development, Liam Conneally issued the threat at the July meeting of the Shannon Municipal District. “Where contracts are not being carried out to the satisfaction of the local authority, we should really consider invoices where they are sent in for payment, they will only be considered when the work is done to the standard of the Council. That mechanism should be used”.

His comments came in reply to a motion from Cllr Gerry Flynn. The Independent councillor had asked the local authority to explain “the reasons behind the lack of quality maintenance on the green infrastructure in Shannon,” the failure to maintain the river walk and address concerns of employers and road users in Smithstown. He insisted the town of Shannon “deserves more attention” from the Council seeing as it is the second largest town in the county and it’s biggest rates contributor.

Senior executive engineer, Aidan O’Rourke clarified that the river walk was not included in the grass cutting contract, “the walkway is located in an area of natural beauty and was never intended to have a structured cutting programme”. Should only one-way traffic be possible, the cutting of grass and weeds at the location will be examined.

Cllr Flynn felt it “was not acceptable that one of our staff here has to be using vast amount of time following up on contractors in the town”. The Miltown Malbay native showed images of “how difficult” it is to get by at the river walk to Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling. “We need to think long and hard about we address this issues going forward”.

“Anybody that canvassed Shannon during the local elections got hit with this,” Cllr PJ Ryan stated. The Independent representative claimed, “I’m in the machinery business for 45 years, the contractor that has the contact for Shannon does not have the equipment that is needed for Shannon so they are not able to do the job properly”.

Meelick’s Cllr Cathal Crowe highlighted the issue of grass cutting affected the whole District. “It was quipped at me at the polling station on May 24th, it cost me votes and it cost us all votes. I don’t fault the Council, I don’t know why the contract wasn’t fulfilled to the quality we would expect. Since the disbanding of the Ennis UDC, the gardening section of Clare County Council doesn’t stretch beyond Clareabbey Roundabout, I don’t expect them here every day we’re not precious but we do need to see their presence”.

“It is not fair on the people of the Shannon Municipal District who go to Ennis or the Irish Open and see what can be done. The first point of contact for the public is the local councillor, this office closes on a Friday evening, ours doesn’t, we still get it going to mass on Sunday morning,” Cllr Flynn said.

Shannon Tidy Towns have also raised concerns with the quality of grass cutting in the area. They have said, contractors “merrily hacked the grass” and cut through litter.

Officials have confirmed the current contractors will be “kept under pressure” until the arrangement is up for review.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, 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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