RESIDENTS of Cloughleigh insist that they will continue to fight against the proposed youth and community resource building, which is to be built on the Cloughleigh Road.
Residents Brendan Kenny and Geraldine Dinan attended Monday’s Ennis Town Council meeting and outlined some of the concerns held by people in the area.
Following their presentations, there were claims that much of the opposition to the proposal is the result of misinformation and that the facility will have a positive impact.
Mr Kenny said that he didn’t believe the site notice for the development had been in order.
“If the notice was erected in the car park area it was not visible and the general public were prohibited from entering this area due to the ongoing construction work in progress. If this was the so-called site notice it was not remotely near where it should have been and was posted on a different site. We can procure any amount of affidavits from people who use the footpath daily to support our claims. It is bizarre that when I spoke to Mr Dollard (Ger Dollard, Ennis town manager) by phone three weeks ago, a site notice was placed on a traffic pole the following morning. This notice is over six feet from the ground, is wrapped around a pole and is barely legible. Very questionable indeed.”
Later in the meeting, Mr Dollard said that some comments that had been made about staff were “offensive”, while he said the claims about the notice on the pole were “absolutely untrue”. He said that there had been a site notice in place and he was supported by Town Engineer Eamon O’Dea.
Mr Kenny claimed that residents weren’t in a position to make submissions.
“All submissions were handed in on the final day, which was September 14. News of this building project going ahead only filtered into the public domain subsequent to this. Residents in the area were not given any time whatsoever to prepare their own submissions opposing the project. We would like to point out the following with regard to these submissions.
“The bulk of submissions are from two letters from two individuals, whom I understand work for the youth service. One of these individuals does not even reside in the area. Accompanying these letters are 263 signatures. The second letter submitted is not signed by the individual concerned.”
He claimed that there was a lack of consultation with people in the area and that alternatives weren’t seriously considered. “From the information we received, three other sites were identified. However, we don’t believe they were even considered, as this proposed site was the target ultimately. To support this statement we only have to refer to previous meetings with councillors, who were unaware of any other locations under consideration. To add further to our grievances concerning this situation, we have learned recently that the land required for the proposed site has already been purchased by the town council and full plans have been drawn up a long time before any vote was cast relating to the go-ahead for this project. In other words, the cart was put before the horse. We consider this most inappropriate and fuels our suspicions that this was a done deal. Totally undemocratic.”
Ms Dinan said that elderly people will be adversely affected.
“The majority of residents directly affected by this decision have an age profile of between 50 and 90 years of age. Surely this should have been a primary concern when these plans are formulated. We have a moral obligation to look after our society, both young and old. These people are one of the most vulnerable sections of our community. Do you want to subject them to the fear of the unknown, fear of potential trouble and disturbance for the rest of their lives?”
She said that residents would continue to fight against the proposal.
“Our final message from the communities we represent is not to be taken lightly. We are not going away. We are standing up for our rights for the sake of justice and fair play. This whole process is essentially flawed and needs changing at Government level with regard to the total lack of consultation and enforcement of these impositions. That is not democracy.”
Councillor Frankie Neylon, who voted against allowing the development to go ahead at the location, said that there was “anxiety and fear” surrounding the development. He also said he hadn’t seen the site notice. “Hand on heart I didn’t see a site notice and I was on that road more often than at any other time over the last 20 years.”
While Councillor Johnny Flynn had voted in favour of the development, he said he was now of the view that “the benefits don’t outweigh the concerns raised”.
Councillor Brian Meaney said he was still backing the project. “Change always brings a certain amount of resistance and I’ve often been behind resistance but there are times when you have to show leadership and this project is good for the town.”
He said that contact had been made by Clare Youth Service with residents before a planning notice appeared in The Clare Champion.
Councillor Meaney said he feared the project could be thrown into jeopardy and asked for the council to prevent that. “I plead and request that leadership be shown by this council.”
Councillor Paul O’Shea proposed that an open day be held at which representatives of Clare Youth Service, gardaí and schools be given an opportunity to outline the benefits of the development. He also suggested that residents living close to a similar facility in Shannon be asked to attend.
Misinformation is rife about the facility, according to Councillor Tommy Brennan. “A lot of untruths are being told about it,” he claimed.
Councillor Michael Guilfoyle had voted against the proposal and he criticised the council again for its handling of the matter. He also said that he spends a lot of time working with young people himself.
Near the conclusion of the debate, Mr Dollard said that he was of the view that a lot of the fears being articulated were based on misinformation.
He said that the Shannon facility was “very positive” but that when people hear untrue claims that there will be things like needle exchange programmes at the one in Ennis, they were naturally concerned.