THE parklet on O’Connell Street in Ennis has been described as an “aesthetic abomination” and “a pustule” this week, by a local trader, who has said there have been reports of rats being seen around it.
Meanwhile Clare County Council have defended the parklet, saying it was brought in to support elderly people and those with reduced mobility, that the public reaction to it has been positive and that the parklet hasn’t led to an increase in vermin in the area.
In a letter sent to the HSE and Clare County Council, a local trader complained of seeing rats at the parklet, close to their premises. “I, myself, observed rodents scurryting around and under this structures on Thursday, March 11, as I was cleaning the outside of my premises. I approached the street cleaning lorry and my observation was corroborated by them. Another street cleaner can bear witness to this also.
“Before this sighting, I have never seen rats in this area which leads me to conclude that the ‘parklet’ deposited there in the summer of 2020, is proving to be a magnet for vermin.
“This structure attracts people who sit down and snack on meals purchased in adjacent food outlets and the danger of infection and sickness is a serious worry as food litter is consistently strewn in its environs. No blame is being apportioned by me to the food outlets in question.
“The structure is clearly providing harbourage and sustenance for rats and its proximity to food outlets is a disturbing scenario and in my commonsensical opinion, constitutes a public hazard.”
The letter also claims that with people from different households using the parklet, it could lead to a spread of Covid-19.
It concluded by asking for “the dismantlement and removal of this structure in the interests of the health and safety of the citizens of Ennis.”
In a statement Clare County Council defended the parklet and said it does not believe it is a habitat for rats. “The parklet on O’Connell Street was introduced arising from numerous requests for a seating/rest area for the elderly and those with reduced mobility in the town centre area. Feedback from the general public on the parklet has been generally very positive.
“Ennis Municipal District has received a single complaint (which was copied to The Clare Champion and others) relating to vermin at the parklet. Ennis MD can advise that we have previously been in receipt of reports of vermin from nearby areas on private property. It is our view that the parklet is not the source of the vermin, nor the cause of any vermin in the area. There is no evidence of vermin nesting within the parklet.
“This complaint has been referred to the Environmental Health Section of the HSE for their investigation.”
John O’Connor of the Retailers of Ennis Group also has a business in the area and he slammed the parklet. “They have put in this aesthetic abomination, that’s all it is, it’s horrible, it doesn’t sit gently with the environment. It’s like a pustule planted there by people that have no empathy for the town of Ennis. If you look at it without the Emperor’s New Clothes psychology behind you, it’s horrible, it’s a wart, it’s a pustule, it’s horrendous.”
He has been a vocal critic of the pedestrianisaton of the centre of Ennis during the pandemic, and he claimed that the County Council isn’t open to compromise. “We are business people, we love our town and we want to see the best happen, we are mad into compromise but these people don’t compromise. Diktats come down from Mount Olympus and the ordinary mortal can’t be engaged with, and that’s our big problem.”
He feels it is a structure that will draw rats. “The whole of Ennis is built on a swamp and there are rats everywhere. The thing about it is there is harbourage there, right underneath it is open to rats finding sanctuary there. As well as sanctuary there is sustinence, because people are eating there left, right and centre, throwing rubbish. You’ll rarely see the rubbish, because at 6am our amazing street cleaners are out cleaning up the detritus of humanity. They’re the ones who see it mainly.”