As Enniscorthy begins to reopen for business in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, a proposal was brought before yesterday's meeting of the Municipal District council outlining plans to pedestrianise the town centre.
In his report to the members, District Manager Ger Mackey recommended a plan that would see pedestrianisation of Market Square, Rafter Street, Weafer Street and Slaney Street.
Traffic would be directed down Irish Street and up Church Street, away from Market Square.
In his report, Mr Mackey said changes that would have to be considered would include parking and deliveries into the pedestrian area and emergency access.
In raising the matter in his report, Mr Mackey made reference to the Government's roadmap for reopening the country as published on May 1.
'Phase 3 of the roadmap is the date that Enniscorthy can expect to reopen and, in that regard, the Municipal District has a key role,' said Mr Mackey.
'This role will be to assist retail and businesses to reopen and adjust to the restrictions that will still be in place regarding social distancing,' he added.
An objective of Phase 2 of the Government's roadmap is to develop plans and supports to open up businesses with consideration for safety of staff and customers.
'There have been consultations with Enniscorthy and District Chamber of Commerce, and also with the business community in the town regarding the making of plans for the transition to Phase 3,' said Mr Mackey.
He went to say that it in the wake of that consultation that he was recommending the pedestrianisation of the town centre to the members.
'It is proposed that a steering group would be established to develop this plan,' said Mr Mackey.
The chairperson of the local authority will head the steering group, which will also include representatives of the chamber of commerce, the local business community and local authority staff.
The pedestrianisation plan, in partnership with the chamber, also allows a range of street furniture to be put in place to allow businesses maximise their trading potential.
'The proposed plan will need to be flexible, adaptable and have the support of the business and retail community,' said Mr Mackey.
He also commented that it's critical that local businesses are supported by the public.
'Enniscorthy is safe, with the advantage of having smaller shops that allow for safer shopping and the proposed additional space in the public realm will further enhance the safe shopping experience,' said Mr Mackey.
'It is also proposed to engage with the artistic community to explore the possibility of street performance and entertainment,' he added.
The recommendation received broad approval from the members, however, some concern was raised that the steering group will need to report back regularly to the members.
'I think the steering group should report back to us after their meetings to discuss what the outcome of their meeting was,' said Cllr Jackser Owens.
The Cathaoirleach, Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan emphasised the importance of kick-starting the reopening of the town for business and the people while Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy said the local authority needed to instil confidence in the people.
She also commented that with many businesses not getting to open until the end of June there was some time to plan for that.
'I am happy to propose it,' she said.
Cllr Cathal Byrne seconded the proposal and said: 'I would welcome the fact we are looking at this idea. The world is a different place to what it was three months ago.'