WEST and North Clare Councillors have called for major consultations with local communities, as plans for the Cliffs of Moher strategy document for the next 20 years is prepared.
Introducing a motion to that effect at this week’s West Clare MD meeting, Councillor Joe Garrihy said, “We are approaching this from a really positive and proactive perspective, looking at this once-in-a-generation opportunity that’s here, particularly for the Ennistymon electoral area and the Burren and Cliffs of Moher, and the local geopark in which the Cliffs of Moher is located. We’re here as conduits and a bridge from our communities and businesses that have been making representations to us.”
The motion had called on the Council to insist on the inclusion of a pillar in the strategy that would “prioritise the sustainability, success, economic and regeneration of the local and host communities of the Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geo Park and Ennistymon LEA within which the Cliffs of Moher is situated.”
Speaking on the motion, Councillor Susan Crawford added, “Community representation and collaboration is really key and I think the whole notion of a pillar and focus would give great visibility to the surrounding towns and villages.”
Councillor Joe Killeen said it is very important the local voice is heard.
“I’m mindful of something one of the Begley brothers said. He said visitors came to his area in Kerry to meet the locals and now visitors come and they can only meet visitors.
“I think in developing a strategy for the Cliffs of Moher we need to take a broad view of the whole North Clare area and to facilitate consultation with communities of the entire area, to listen to their views and to see how we can put the whole product together so the whole area can benefit from the gains and successes of the Cliffs of Moher.”
He said there is evidence that the North Clare area is not benefiting from the tourist attraction as it should.
“I’m mindful of the post office in Kilfenora, it was on a tourist route, but still was closed last year in a village a stone’s throw from the Cliffs of Moher on a tourist route.”
It is very important that the plan is the right one, Councillor Shane Talty said.
“We need to be able to respond to people in Miltown or Lisdoon or Corofin or Kilfenora and say this is the plan for the next 20 years, this is what it proposes for your town and village.
“That needs to be visible and to be seen. In order for that, we do need that pillar and you also need as much consultation and as much listening as possible.”
He feels that the consultants are determined to proceed properly. “They are determined to take their time and get it right. To continue listening now over a number of months and to return with a draft document, put that back out for a second round of consultation, so the communities can make observations and comments on the actual document. At the moment there’s a bit of shooting in the dark, but at the second opportunity they’ll very much be speaking to the direction the consultants will have outlined at that point.”
By Owen Ryan