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Five year olds Aisling McCabe and Nora Hendrie at the Save Ennis Town event at the Square in Ennis on Saturday. Photograph by Arthur Ellis

Protestors let their feet do the talking at Save Ennis Town rally

HUNDREDS of people opposed to controversial plans to build on two carparks in Ennis gathered in the heart of the town last Saturday to voice their objection.
A crowd of more than 200 people came together in the historic O’Connell Square for the rally calling for an end to the Ennis 2040 proposals for the carparks.
Among those to speak out was Ennis resident and retired teacher Joan Duggan, who last October had presented a petition against the plans to Clare County Council signed by more than 3,700 people.
She told those gathered that the only motive of those against the proposals is “to save your town for the future generation.”
The Abbey Street carpark plans involve the development of retail and office space with the Ennis 2040 DAC (Designated Activity Company) saying the proposed project will create jobs and attract shoppers.
They predict an estimated 100 permanent jobs to be created once the development is complete, alongside 200 jobs during construction, and a town centre footfall of 20,000 shoppers a week.
The Ennis DAC insist the delivery of a large retail outlet in the Abbey Street carpark “will complement the existing mix of retail in Ennis and strengthen the attractiveness of Ennis as a retail destination” with the area to be transformed “into a vibrant attractive area to work and shop”.
However those against the move expressed fears it will lead to a loss of an important civic space and parking, and be detrimental to local businesses and the town’s future.
Chairman of Save Ennis Town (SET) Gearoid Mannion told us they were “extremely happy” with the support for their campaign at the weekend’s rally.
Addressing the large gathering on Saturday afternoon, Mrs Duggan described the planned development as a “dreadful thing” voicing concerns over how the loss of parking will affect older people and those with mobility issues.
She asked, “If your heart stops beating, what happens? You die. If the heart of Ennis is sucked out by building on our two carparks, what will happen to Ennis?”
She urged those gathered to make their voices heard on the proposals during next month’s local elections.
“We’ve been called bananas, potholes with ulterior motives but our only motive is to save your town for the future generation. Your children, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren. Are you the people in 2024 that are going to be responsible for the heart of Ennis dying? Please get out on June 7.”
Other speakers at the rally included chair of SET Gearoid Mannion, local businessman John O’Connor of Retailers of Ennis, Independent TD Michael McNamara, Councillor Johnny Flynn and local historian Cora Hahessy.
Speaking to The Clare Champion after the event Mr Mannion said, “We were extremely happy with the turnout of townspeople and the feedback we received afterwards. The weather was perfect. The speeches were short and on-point.
And an assembly of traditional musicians entertained the crowd before and after. A number of locals even danced the Siege of Ennis towards the end.”
The proposed Abbey Street carpark project includes a large retail space at ground and first floor levels together with office accommodation on the upper floors which Ennis 2040 say have been “carefully designed to respect and integrate with the existing architecture of Ennis”. A raised river walkway is also proposed along the northern edge of the building to provide views of the River Fergus as well as space for recreation and leisure.
The Abbey Street Car Park development project is part of the Ennis 2040 Economic and Spatial Strategy and is integrated into the Clare County Development Plan 2023 to 2029, “both of which aim to deliver a range of necessary developments to make Ennis a better place to live, work, visit and invest in,” say the DAC.
“The core objectives are to future proof the town centre by encouraging investment, creating employment, diversifying Ennis’ retail offering while also accommodating attractive public spaces that will enhance and complement the town centre as a destination for residents and visitors.”

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