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Pat McDonagh, Managing Director, Supermacs: "I think this is a win-win situation and I know from the other outlets we have that it does help the local community in a big way.”

Supermacs boss says Ennis motorway plaza is a ‘win-win’

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THE development of a €10 million Barrack Obama Plaza-style motorway service station just outside of Ennis is a “win-win” insists Supermacs managing director Pat McDonagh.

As well as creating jobs, he believes the development has the potential to boost local business and tourism saying, “Anything that brings business to an area generally creates other opportunities.”

Mr McDonagh spoke to the Clare Champion this week after An Bord Pleanala upheld a decision by Clare County Council to grant planning permission for the development adjacent to Junction 12 of the M18 at Kilbreckan, Doora.

The green light from An Bord Pleanala comes eight years after proposals for a motorway plaza were first lodged by the fast food giant with Mr McDonagh saying, “It’s good to get it over the line, it’s been a long haul.”

He outlines the new plaza will result in similar job creation to the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall, with 120 people expected to be employed at the Ennis plaza and a further 100 jobs during construction. He expects construction to begin on site in early 2023 with hopes that the new plaza will be open by the end of that year.

This was the fourth planning application to develop a plaza at this location. The latest proposal was granted planning permission by Clare County Council back in 2020, but appeals to An Bord Pleanala by a number of local businesses and a landowner put the plans on hold.

The businesses argued the plaza would have a “significant negative impact” on Ennis and other surrounding areas.

However Mr McDonagh insists it is his experience that these developments do the opposite and he is confident the plaza will be “good for Ennis and Clare generally”.

Welcoming the An Bord Pleanala decision he says, “We’re happy with the decision for a number of reasons, for our own development but also for the whole area because there is a demand for this and I think it is going to be good for everyone.”

He continues, “Most motorways across the country now, people just go from A to B without stopping unless they have a reason to stop. This plaza will give them a reason to stop and have a quick look around what is happening in the area. They may not go into Ennis on the day, but the next time they have time on their hands and they are passing they might spend some time there.

“Ennis is a very progressive town with a lot of quality shops, restaurants and hotels that will benefit from this. I think this is a win-win situation and I know from the other outlets we have that it does help the local community in a big way.”

A tourism information facility has been included in the plans for the plaza with the aim of showcasing attractions and places in Clare, particularly lesser known locations.

“There is no need to promote the likes of the Cliffs of Moher, but there might be a need to promote tourist attractions in other areas of Clare that aren’t as well known.

“The difficulty I see happening is you have tourist buses bringing them from Dublin or wherever to the Cliffs of Moher and that’s it, nothing else. Whereas if you can get them to stay for a couple of days that’s where the opportunity arises.”

He has been “delighted with the goodwill” that people in Clare have shown for the plans.

“I’ve been asked I’d say a thousand times over the last number of years what’s happening with Junction 12? When are you going to open? What’s going on? People want a facility like this and if it doesn’t go there it will go somewhere else. This is Ennis and Clare’s opportunity, an opportunity to work together and create a situation that will help everyone.”

Backing the development is Ennis Councillor Pat Daly who had requested to be placed as a representative on the planning application to the council. He described the An Bord Pleanala decision as “great news for Ennis, the hinterland and the entire county.”

He continued, “Ennis people and Clare people should welcome this with open arms. It won’t affect business and it will create jobs while also being great for tourism.”

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