*A sketched impression of the Supermac’s Plaza. 

SUPERMAC’s MD, Pat McDonagh has hit out at ‘red-tape’ after revealing that he has spent “well in excess of €1.5m” on professional and legal fees to date on his stalled €10m Barack Obama style Supermac’s motorway plaza for Clare.

In an interview, Mr McDonagh said that he has been waiting nine and a half years to get the go-ahead for the project close to Ennis serving the M18 Limerick to Galway motorway and “no ground broken yet”.

Mr McDonagh first lodged plans for the motorway plaza on a site close in December 2014 and finally secured planning permission at his third attempt from An Bord Pleanála in October 2022.

However, the project has since stalled after Co Clare based chartered civil engineer, Michael Duffy took a High Court judicial review challenge to the An Bord Pleanala permission.

Mr McDonagh said that the planned Ennis project “is a prime example” of red tape in Ireland stagnating projects.

He said, “I can’t say too much about it because it is going to go to the courts.”

He said, “For any future projects, I wouldn’t like to be caught up nine years and spent well in excess of €1.5m in costs on it to get what should be a fairly straight-forward grant of permission”.

Mr McDonagh said that the €1.5m plus has been spent on fees on architects, engineers, surveys and legal costs.

He said, “Our feeling is that we will keep fighting until we get there”. He said that when operational, the plaza will employ between 120 to 140.

Mr McDonagh said that the plaza will be in place in 2025 “if we are lucky enough to be successful”.

Mr McDonagh said, “There is so much red tape attached to things today that it slows down the whole process and unless there is leadership and guidance put into it, it will stagnate the country before very long”.

He said, “There seems to be an attitude that it is a free for all to object to anything that is happening”.

Asked if he wished to comment on Mr McDonagh’s remarks, Mr Duffy declined to comment.

Michael Duffy has claimed that the Appropriate Assessment, which assesses potential adverse effects of projects on Special Areas of Conservation (SCA), lodged with the Supermac’s planning application is flawed and therefore planning permission should not have been granted.

A previous Supermac’s plaza application for the site was mired in controversy after it emerged in 2018 that bogus letters of support were lodged with Clare County Council.

At the time, Supermac’s stated that it was ‘horrified’ to learn about the bogus letters from the media “and disowns the actions taken and wants to distance itself completely from them”.

The December 2014 application was turned down by An Bord Pleanála in 2016 and Clare County Council granted planning permission for the current scheme in December 2020 and this permission was upheld by An Bord Pleanála in October 2022.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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