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Community draws up vision for town in 2020

Councillor Johnny Flynn, Sarah Ferrigan from the Ennis 2020 Steering Group, Elaine Dalton and Anne Loftus from the Clare Active Citizenship Network and Councillor Mary Howard with town crier Martin Vernon during the launch of the Ennis 2020 – Planning Beyond Recession document, which coincided with the 400th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter to Ennis. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

A NEW vision for the development of Ennis in the post-recession era was unveiled  this week as part of a ceremony marking the 400th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to Ennis.

 

 

Councillor Johnny Flynn, Sarah Ferrigan from the Ennis 2020 Steering Group, Elaine Dalton and Anne Loftus from the Clare Active Citizenship Network and Councillor Mary Howard with town crier Martin Vernon during the launch of the Ennis 2020 – Planning Beyond Recession document, which coincided with the 400th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter to Ennis. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

A NEW vision for the development of Ennis in the post-recession era was unveiled  this week as part of a ceremony marking the 400th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to Ennis.

The ceremony was also marked by criticism of plans to abolish local government, with both local historian Brian Ó Dálaigh and Mayor of Ennis Councillor Peter Considine describing the proposals as a “retrograde step”.

The visioning document, Ennis 2020 – Planning Beyond Recession, is based on a unique two-year engagement with the public carried out in partnership with Ennis Town Council and the University of Limerick (UL) and supported by Clare Active Citizenship Network.

Objectives identified by the local community include the expansion of existing academic links between the town and third-level institutions in Limerick and Galway; the establishment of distinct town districts relating to gourmet, culture and youth; the development of Ennis as Ireland’s first carbon-neutral town and the provision of a large indoor sports recreational facility, as well as a covered market area similar to Limerick’s Milk Market.

The vision also includes a recommendation from the community to establish a public citizens’ assembly to develop a democratic charter to guide civic engagements in Ennis and monitor the implementation of the framework.

Councillor Considine paid tribute to the local community and students from UL, whom he said were “central to the development of the framework”.

“Ennis has a proud economic, social, cultural and political history, which is a legacy, which we must protect and build on to ensure the town of Ennis remains the capital of County Clare in terms of tourism, economic development, community engagement and active citizenship,” he added.

The mayor continued, “UL students involved in the Practicum Programme have, over the past two years, recorded the views of Ennis residents, stakeholders, councillors and policy makers on future visions for the town. The fruits of that painstaking work are now captured in this new model of civic engagement. This will guide all of us with an interest in, and love for, Ennis. The Ennis 2020 framework will continue the careful enhancement of our town and community over the coming decade.”

Speaking at the launch in Ennis, Professor Don Barry, president of UL, commented, “This experience allowed our students to observe and contribute to a live community consultation process but, more importantly, it started students along their own paths of community service, which we hope they will continue in the future. The Ennis 2020 Project should be regarded as a model for other Irish towns that aspire to build and improve their communities.”

Professor Barry also highlighted the strong connection between the university and Clare, with 40% of the institution’s campus now in the Banner County.

He paid tribute to Clare County Council’s inclusion of the university in the County Development Plan. He stated that the university and local authority are working towards a hub for economic development and job creation.

The launch saw Mr Ó Dálaigh outline Ennis’ 400-year history, while he commented that the abolition of Ennis Town Council would be a “retrograde step” that “far from encouraging local initiative and encouraging local communities, will stultify local people”.

He added that Ennis Town Council has a history that it can be “justifiably proud of over the years”.

“Municipal government in Ennis, I think, has a future and I want to wish it every success,” he said.
Meanwhile, Councillor Considine emphasised his objection to the abolition of Ennis Town Council, saying government should be “from the bottom up”.

“Ennis Town Council has stood the test of time and it has delivered for the good of the people of the town of Ennis. I sincerely hope that local government as we know it will continue with some improvements,” he said.

Monday’s launch coincided with the 400th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to Ennis. While established in the 13th century, when the O’Briens of Thomond built an abbey on the banks of the River Fergus, Ennis was only granted a charter by King James I and named a borough with its own seal in 1613.

Also on display at the ceremony in Ennis Civic Chamber was the original seal presented to the Borough of Ennis, as well as a newly restored Minute Book for the period 1874 to 1883. The Minute Book documents Ennis Town Commissioners’ first meeting as an urban sanitary authority and gives an insight into the conditions endured by the inhabitants of the town in the late 19th century.

Meanwhile, an actor dressed in period costume recreated through a mini-drama piece the character of a town crier in Ennis from 400 years ago.

Copies of Ennis 2020 – Planning Beyond Recession are available from the offices of Ennis Town Council, Waterpark House, Drumbiggle, Ennis and by contacting 065 6828040. For more information, see www.ennis2020.ie.

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