NEGATIVE online commentary about Shannon and Clare County Council’s role in running it was criticised this week, with several members of the Shannon MD saying it’s time to point out some of the positive things about Clare’s second largest town.
Independent Councillor Gerry Flynn called out those he referred to as “keyboard warriors”, who always criticise the town and elected representatives.
“They hide beyond their keyboards and they’re always negative, negative, negative.”
He said it’s time that the Council “spoke up about all that is good about Shannon”.
A motion from Councillor Flynn asked that the Council engage a public relations specialist to publicise “the many positives that exist in Shannon Town as a place to live, bring up a family and avail of the many opportunities that exist for employment, education, social interests and also an expansive landscape to enjoy”.
Councillor Flynn says the local authority has the web address shannon.ie available to it, and this could be used to promote positive messages about the town and wider municipal district.
Independent Councillor PJ Ryan referred to a recent meeting with local community group Love Shannon Community Council.
“I don’t really know what structure it has or what the position is, but it was pointed out by some of the councillors that they need to start thinking and talking positive rather than all this negative talk that’s coming out.
“A ll this stuff that’s being thrown at Councillors and thrown at Clare County Council , that they’re the poor relation and all that,” said Councillor Ryan.
“I think there have been major supports put into Shannon. Like everywhere else it always wants more, that’s always the case.”
Councillor Michael Begley said he had been stunned by some of the negativity at that meeting.
“I was at that meeting too and I have to say I was taken aback by some of the rhetoric that was directed at Clare County Council and indirectly by the councillors as well.
“There is nothing gained by that sort of approach in terms of trying to improve your area, if that’s what your intention is. Lots of positive things have happened in Shannon and will continue to do so and the councillors will be part of that.”
Commenting, Councillor Pat O’Gorman said, “Every time we meet with groups like we met that night, they seem to bring the negative more than the positive out, it’s very hard to understand why.”
Sinn Féin’s Donna McGettigan said there is much to be proud of in Shannon.
“Shannon has an awful lot of positives and I think the pandemic brought these forward. Straight away a community group was set up to get messages and medicine in for people. Having grown up in Shannon it’s a fantastic place for children, there’s a lot of clubs and groups there.”
She said a recent promotional video of Ennis featuring drone footage of the town had been very good, and she would like to see a similar video featuring Shannon.
Director of Service Liam Conneally said that while a lot of good work is done in the Shannon area, it isn’t always well publicised.
He warned that in the era of social media, the impact of what he called “consistent negative messaging” is potentially very serious.
Mr Conneally warned it could result in Shannon missing out on investment.
“Potential investors to a location are attuned to what’s going on in the community in a location and if that messaging is consistently negative that’s picked up and it impacts on investment decisions.”
He also said Shannon is “an active community, a growing community and most importantly a positive community”.
At the conclusion of the debate, Councillor Flynn said he has not sought to promote his own vote while serving as a councillor and won’t be intimidated into taking any position.
“I’ve never protected that vote, that’s why I’ve struggled to get elected. I call it as I see it, there’s a job of work to do for Shannon, that’s what I’m elected to do and I won’t be intimidated by any group into submission to go down a particular route, that these unmandated people are looking for.
“Protecting the vote is a dangerous thing to do, do what you’re elected to do, do your job, the next election takes care of itself.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.