“A draft mortuary notice for West Clare” has been issued by Clare County Council based on it’s economic development plans for the area according to the longest serving elected representative in the county.
For the second Council meeting in succession, Cllr PJ Kelly requested details from the local authority on economic development plans for West Clare relating to villages, towns, rural areas, the Shannon Estuary and Moneypoint.
Director of Economic Development, Liam Conneally was unable to attend the meeting and his written reply to Cllr Kelly highlighted “the many plans and strategies that are currently in place each playing their part in the overall economic future for the West Clare area”. He referred to projects awarded RRDF funding such as Lahinch Seaworld and Town Upgrade project (€2.86m), Loop Head Visitor Attraction (€865,500), Vandeleur Estate, Kilrush (€1.72m) and Doolin Pier Visitor Centre (€465,571) which he maintained would “provide a wider benefit to the rural areas and villages as they further complement the overall tourism product and contribute to the overall cumulative economic benefit”.
Conneally stated the Council was “committed to the implementation of the Strategic Integrated Framework Plan for the Shannon Estuary (SIFP) which identifies both Moneypoint Power Station and Cahercon as Strategic Development Areas”. He referred to the allocation of €1.7m from Enterprise Ireland to the development of Cahercon as a Maritime Centre of Excellence, the local authority is preparing a detailed analysis of the development proposal at the location.
“Moneypoint Power Station is a Strategic Development Area and zoned for Maritime Related Industry and Clare County Council is committed to safeguarding its contribution to the efficient generation of electricity into the future and regular and ongoing engagement with ESB Management seeks to assist in identifying a new energy generation,” Conneally concluded.
An unhappy Kelly voiced his disappointment with the response and the absence of Mr Conneally. The Lissycasey councillor was critical of Lahinch’s inclusion in the response as it is not situated in West Clare. “There is no response for rural areas or villages and only a vague reference to Shannon Estuary and no reference for future plans at Moneypoint, if this isn’t confusion or lack of commitment I don’t know what it is”.
“I did say there’s a hard border around Dublin and it looks like there’s a harder border around Ennis as far as West Clare is concerned. Fancy terminology and reports are no substitute for hard work or jobs. In my view this is a draft mortuary notice for West Clare, it’s bad for West Clare,” the Fianna Fáil representative cautioned.
Independent councillor Christy Curtin seconded the motion but stated, “I wouldn’t be as pessimistic as my colleague but I appreciate his comments”. Senior planner, Brian McCarthy felt the response “gave a flavour of the work being done”.
On future plans for Moneypoint, Cllr Kelly warned the Council were talking to “the wrong people”. “If we’re going to have a role as economic developers, we have to have a role, we need a plan and we need to implement it”.
Director of Service, Carmel Kirby stressed, “Clare County Council has no say on coal burning at Moneypoint”. She added, “Clare County Council is leaving no stone unturned on Moneypoint. Nothing is ruled in, nothing is ruled out”.
Kirby was then questioned by Cllr Kelly if they had been speaking with Government agencies and she confirmed the Chief Executive and Director of Service held conversations “with a variety of agencies”. “Has anyone in the Council been speaking with Minister Bruton directly,” Kelly queried and Ms Kirby answered, “I will ask the Director to come back directly to you on that”.