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Minister gives ‘firm commitment’ to complete ‘funding jigsaw’ to develop Ennis’ historic town centre

THE Minister of State for Local Government and Planning Peter Burke has given “a firm commitment” that the government will complete the “funding jigsaw” to develop Ennis’ historic town centre.
Last year Ennis received €3.85 million in Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) support as part  of the town centre regeneration programme, which involved extensive works at Parnell Street and the network of lanes and bow-ways in the medieval heart of the town.
Earlier this year Clare County Council submitted a proposal for further support under the second call of the URDF. The ambitious proposal sought funding for vital public realm works at Barrack Street, Old Barrack Street, O’Connell Square, High Street and Old Connell Street.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Joe Carey urged Minister Burke and his department “to give this key rejuvenation scheme favourable consideration”.
The local Fine Gael TD said, “A number of months ago, Clare County Council lodged a further ambitious urban regeneration and development fund application to further deal with the public realm issues in Ennis. These plans were informed by a process of public consultation, stakeholder engagement and technical design studies.
“This project is effectively the last piece in the jigsaw. The areas covered by the proposal are Barrack Street, Old Barrack Street, O’Connell Square, High Street and Old Connell Street. O’Connell Square houses an iconic statue of Daniel O’Connell and is one of the most important public spaces in Ennis town centre. Public events of all natures have taken place here, from political rallies to sets danced at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. High Street, Bank Place and Barrack Street lead off the square while O’Connell Street is the principal shopping street in Ennis, with standout award-winning shops, bars and restaurants.
He added, “This is a most important application and a critical scheme for the town of Ennis. I hope the Minister of State and his Department’s officials will give this key rejuvenation scheme favourable consideration, particularly after the devastating fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic on Ennis and surrounding areas.”
In his response, Minister Burke acknowledged “the great amount of work the Deputy [Carey] has put into supporting this project and into articulating its merits”, adding that many of the proposals for URDF funding “are of significant scale and complexity and require careful evaluation”.
Deputy Carey pressed Minister Burke to give a timeframe on the NRDF application, and extend an invitation for him to visit Ennis in person “to turn the sod on this development in the New Year”.
Minister Burke gave the Clarecastle-based TD “a firm commitment that all his representations are being taken on board by my Department and my office”.
He added, “Regeneration funding is about unlocking the potential in our regional towns and cities to ensure they get the chance to grow. In the coming months, as private investment in our economy will be weak, we need a robust public investment to make up for that. The URDF will be a key enabler to our regions to do that. I assure the Deputy that the key points he made tonight will get the highest attention. I look forward to working with him to complete this jigsaw for Ennis.”
 

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