WITH West Clare’s tourism sector set for a difficult spell ahead, the future of Moneypoint is particularly critical to the region’s economy.
Kilrush based county councillor Ian Lynch said that the slow progress in establishing what the future will hold is very frustrating. “The momentum has been taken out of the economy and we have spent years discussing how Moneypoint can be a key stimulus to it. There are several opportunities out there that we’re just not allowed to explore because the ESB aren’t willing to open the deepwater port. I think a couple of weeks ago the ESB said that the possibility of Moneypoint being shut down in the near future is becoming more likely. I don’t believe that because I do think it’ll always be there as a back-up, there would still be maintenance, but the amount of shifts would be minimal in the year. ESB management aren’t willing to open up the port for reuse, they’re talking to us and say they have a plan, but they need to let us know what it is. There are talks of bringing the IDA back here, but for what, to look at a port we’re not allowed to get at. We need to know what we actually have to make an offer to different businesses to come in and try and stimulate the economy.”
He said there is a need for some certainty as soon as possible, so plans can be made for whatever the new situation will be. “There are opportunities there that we can’t even explore if we don’t know if we can use the jetty or the grounds that are there. I think at this stage the Government have to say that if ye are committed to closing Moneypoint down, that it’s not viable, then the land has to be turned over to Clare County Council or the IDA or whoever it is to explore options. Sitting still is doing us no good, there has to be a decision. Statements like there is a possibility of Moneypoint closing doesn’t help when people are already concerned about Covid. If there’s going to be a statement it has to be a definite statement, once a decision is made we can move on, we can say that’s it and this is what we need to do now. Constant talk with no decision is a waste of time for us.”
While some information around future plans may be commercially sensitive, he said that people need some certainty about their livelihoods.
Given the changes that Covid-19 has brought, he said it is vital that there is proper planning for keeping West Clare’s economy going. “We’ve been so reliant on tourism for a long time and now getting people back onto planes is going to take an awful effort. It’ll be at least 18 months before there’s any bit of comfort around it, with the efforts to get people to spend locally as well, it’ll be a long time before tourism can be a real stimulus to the economy. We have to be clever in what we do, it has to be stuff that is meaningful and long term.”