The Mayor of Ennis insists Garda visibility isn’t to blame for anti-social behaviour at a prominent amenity in the town.
It follows confirmation from Clare County Council that the controversial Ennis Market Building will remain closed “until further notice” due to “workplace safety, health and public welfare concerns”.
The building and associated public realm improvements were completed in August 2016 to coincide with the first Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ennis.
At the time, it was intended that the €1.75m development would facillitate a thriving market to rival Limerick’s Milk Market, but a failure to attract traders has led to its being deemed a “white elephant” by many.
With the building’s primary use now that of a 27-space car park, recent reports have circulated, concerning public intoxication, drug dealing and public order incidents on the site.
Chief Superintendent of the Clare-Tipperary Garda Division, Colm O’Sullivan believes, however, there’s a widespread acknowledgement of increased Garda visibility in the area.
Clare County Council has announced that the Ennis Market Building will remain closed “until further notice” and that it is “engaging with An Garda Siochana to address ongoing anti-social behaviour”.
Speaking at the most recent meeting of the Clare Joint Policing Committee which took place this week, Deputy Michael McNamara criticised the level of policing at the site and asked if “anything other than drugs” has been sold there in recent times.
Mayor of Ennis and Fianna Fáil Councillor Pat Daly has defended the manner in which the area is being policed, saying he “wouldn’t criticise the Gardaí”, but has stressed that visibility is of paramount importance.
Clare County Council has issued the following statement:
The original aim of the project was to provide a covered space which would aid a process of regeneration of the market area, and add to the vitality of the area. The design sought to provide a balance between the existing character of the area, whilst having a modern multi-purpose structure that would facilitate the following:
• Market: a location for licensed traders to promote their quality food and craft produce
• Car Park: On non-trading / non event days, the facility provides 27 car parking spaces
• A location for the hosting of community /festival events
The building and public realm improvements were completed in full in August 2016 for the first Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Ennis.
Approximately two thirds of the costs of the project related to public realm enhancements in the vicinity, which improved pedestrian accessibility, junction arrangements and the safety of all road users.
In the more than 7 years since the building opened it has been used on numerous occasions for one off markets and by various community groups. Furthermore, it provides an income from car parking to the Council on an annual basis.
In very recent times, concerns were raised around public welfare issues at the building. In this regard, the decision was made to temporarily close the building so that these concerns can be appropriately addressed and we are engaging with the relevant authorities. This has reduced the amount of available parking from 27 to 12.