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Councillor Pat Daly

City status would boost Ennis’ economy say local councillors

ENNIS could become Ireland’s newest city. Moves are being pushed by members of the Ennis Municipal District to have city status designated on the county capital, with hopes that this will lead to an economic boost with increased tourism and jobs growth.
Spearheading the idea is Councillor Pat Daly who at this week’s meeting of the local authority outlined that Ennis is well placed to be named as a city. Making the case he stressed the many advantages Ennis has over other localities, while criticising the IDA for “ignoring” the town.
“Over the years we have seen how Ennis has grown from a small town to a very large town, it’s now one of the highest populated towns in this country,” he said. He praised the town’s educational facilities, tourism offerings and sporting amenities.
The town is “ideally located” with a quality of shops, hotels, restaurants and bars that “would match any city in Ireland”. The councillor outlined the town’s many industrial parks, as well as the potential of the Clare Technology Park.
However, he said, “Sadly we have seen no industry come to this town in 25, years. The IDA has ignored our town for many, many years. Granted, we are very fortunate to be so close to the Shannon Free Zone, which is a great employer for the people of Clare, but Ennis has the full and comprehensive infrastructure to deliver further industry.”
He said that towns like Kilkenny and Sligo have changed to city status resulting in a “flood of industry” showing interest.
The motion was seconded by Mayor of Ennis Councillor Paul Murphy who said, “the economic bounce it would bring to the town would be fantastic.” Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy questioned what is required to be designated as a city. Councillor Ann Norton stated that the requirement to be called a city, a place has to be a seat of government or a cathedral town, asking “Why not Ennis?” “I can definitely see the potential of Ennis having the city brand, that would draw in more business,” she said, adding that it would be important that Ennis not lose it’s historical elements.
Councillor Mark Nestor gave the proposal his backing, saying he hoped it is something the council can work on together.
The idea was described as “very timely” by Councillor Johnny Flynn who pointed out that the Southern Regional Economic and Spatial Strategy has analysed the region, finding Ennis to be the largest town in Munster, and the fifth largest settlement in the southern region. He pointed out Ennis has similar population size to Kilkenny and similar attributes. He added that Ennis is the cathedral town of the diocese of Killaloe.
“For Ennis to grow we need to achieve city status. When you look at where the money is going in the National Development Plan and the 100 billion promised to be spent over the next 10 years on infrastructure, education on such things, it’s following the cities first and key towns like Ennis second.”
Director of Service Carmel Kirby told the meeting that Ennis has been identified as a key town in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy, adding, “that’s a good thing” in that it prioritises the town for investment. She said the National Development Plan process is underway and this is “probably a very appropriate time” to explore achieving city status. A meeting is to be arranged with the planning department of the council to see how the proposal can be moved forward as an issue to be addressed through the National Development Plan.

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