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Councillor Pat Daly

Ennis temporary Covid-19 town centre mobility plan due for review

ENNIS’ Temporary Covid-19 Town Centre Mobility Plan, resulting in parts of the town closed to traffic, has been described as “very conservative” with calls being made for restrictions to be lessened.
The Ennis Municipal District have confirmed that a review of the plan is scheduled to take place after the current lock-down measures are eased. Speaking at the monthly meeting of the local authority, Councillor Pat Daly urged that the council and the mobility stakeholder group keep the traffic situation under constant review with a view to re-opening selected streets if the county’s Covid numbers continue to improve.
He said that many business owners are “tired and upset” over the ongoing street closures. “The pandemic has caused severe damage to their livelihoods” he said, expressing the hope that there may be “light at the end of the tunnel” in the near future.
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy voiced her support to the motion, saying the pandemic has been “very, very hard on everybody”. She plans to push for a “rethink of the very conservative” temporary mobility measures when the matter comes up for the next review, she said.
She added that a lot more has become known about the virus in the past year with experts saying that the risk of transmission in the open air is small. “I want to see the re-opening of our town”.
Councillor Johnny Flynn said the pandemic has resulted in an “extremely negative impact” which is affecting businesses in the town, while young people are losing out on the opportunity of part time employment.
He added that the situation is changing with the roll out of vaccines, while it is understood that Covid-19 is not as active during the summer months. He said he is in favour of re-examining pedestrianisation, suggesting that the parklet be moved from O’Connell Street to Bank Place.
He emphasised that the measures were put in place to protect health and safety and urged the public to be understanding.
Councillor Mark Nestor said he looks forward to seeing the “hustle and bustle” return to the streets. Mayor of Ennis, Councillor Paul Murphy commented, “None of us like to see a dead town, and unfortunately it is, and that goes for many other towns.” He pointed out that the mobility plan was put in place in “reaction to a crisis”. He said more is being learned about the virus, which will need to be taken into account when it comes to deciding on whether or not to relax the restrictions. “This is about finding a consensus and trying to do what’s best.”
He continued, “My heart goes out to the traders, they above all else have been impacted, but we also need to give confidence to people coming into the town.”
“The worst thing we can do is a knee jerk reaction and open up fully, we have to tread carefully.”
Leonore O’Neill, Senior Executive Officer, responded to the motion, “The Temporary Covid-19 Ennis Town Centre Mobility Plan was brought in as a response to Covid-19 to enable social distancing on the narrow streets of Ennis. The plan is subject to ongoing review and the Government guidelines around social distancing remain unchanged at this time.
“The stakeholders group comprises all seven Ennis MD councillors, the HSE, An Garda Siochana, Ennis Chamber of Commerce, Retail Excellence Ireland, Retailers of Ennis, Better Ennis Vintners Federation, Older Persons Council and disability advocates. The measures currently in place were agreed by all stakeholders who consider the plan in the context of submissions received, and government guidelines.  It was collectively decided by the group not to alter the traffic re-routing measures during the current level 5 lockdown. The next review of the plan is scheduled for shortly after the easing of the current lockdown measures.”
She re-emphasised that the measure is temporary intervention. The next meeting of the stakeholders is being arranged where the input of all relevant parties will be evaluated.
Councillor Daly concluded, “You can see the frustration out there at the moment, it is very, very serious. Hopefully sooner rather than later it will get sorted.”

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