As part of the Clare Age Friendly Strategy, Ennis is joining the national Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme which aims to make Ireland a truly great place in which to grow old. The Ennis Age Friendly Town initiative is built on the recognition of the valuable role that older people can and should play in shaping their communities for the better. The Age Friendly Town Team have worked with the Clare Older People’s Council in this regard.
Ennis Municipal District is progressing a number of projects throughout Ennis Town and its environs to make the town more accessible, which will include shared surfaces, table-top crossing points, dropped kerbs, pedestrian crossings, age-friendly parking spaces and age-friendly seating areas. Funding of €10.5m was secured under the Government’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund projects for public realm enhancements, with a further €950,000 secured for various works from the National Transport Authority under Active Travel grants.
Some of the other initiatives as part of the project include: an age-friendly business programme in conjunction with Ennis Chamber of Commerce, physical activity programmes for older adults by Active Ennis and Clare Sports Partnership, community policing and crime prevention initiatives by Ennis Gardaí as well as valuable input provided by the Alzheimer’s Society.
In a video message delivered at the launch, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, said: “As we all know life expectancy is increasing, and so too is the need to ensure that Ireland is a good country in which to grow old. An Age Friendly Town is a town where the community understands and responds to the needs of older people. This Government wants to empower citizens to participate in the development of their communities, we want to support people to live independently and very often it is small and simple improvements which can make a world of difference in people’s lives. We will continue to work with local authorities like Clare County Council to make this a reality.”
Mayor of Ennis Municipal District, Cllr. Ann Norton, welcomed the launch of Ennis as an Age Friendly Town, stating: “I am delighted to support this initiative that seeks to proactively address the needs of older citizens and build an age-friendly society. A safe, friendly town with good accessibility and facilities is a good place for children, families of all ages, people living with disabilities and visitors to the town.”
Pat Dowling, Chair of the Clare Age Friendly Alliance and Chief Executive of Clare County Council, commented: “County Clare has already made great progress in future proofing the county for its ageing population. The development of Ennis as the first Age Friendly Town in Clare is a great achievement which we hope will improve the lives of our older citizens. I would like to acknowledge the collaborative effort both with our partners and the Clare Older People’s Council.”
Larry Hally, Clare Older People’s Council, said: “As a member of the Ennis Age Friendly Town Team, I am delighted to see all of the progress made to both the development of public spaces and other initiatives being delivered for the benefit of older people. We believe that Ennis as an Age Friendly Town will benefit everyone in the community, not just the older people.”
Darragh McAllister, President of Ennis Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the introduction of the age-friendly business initiative as part of the project, adding: “This initiative includes 15 businesses already in Ennis who are developing actions that will provide a better service to their older customers. We are aiming to grow this initiative going forward and any businesses wishing to participate can contact Ennis Chamber.”