GIVEN the series of dramas that accompanied its planning and construction, it would have been in keeping if the official opening of Glaise na Rinne was hours late, or if it was disrupted by weather, or some other issue.
What actually happened was the opening ran fairly close to the scheduled time and the weather was perfect. The only snag was that some residents were unhappy that it was held during normal working hours, which they claimed prevented them attending.
One man living in the estate said he would have loved to attend and was very unhappy with the scheduling.
The estate was bedevilled by problems for years and the 22-house development ended up costing €5.3 million of taxpayers’ money.
In the middle part of the last decade, some residents of Cluain Airne were upset at the change of zoning of the nearby green area. In 2007, at a public meeting in the town, there was anger expressed about the decision to build on the green area, with claims there were plenty of other sites in the town, which were serviced by roads and wouldn’t cause difficulties for residents.
After the construction began, the problems were far from over. Work stopped in 2010 and the contract with Paddy Burke Builders Ltd was terminated. Then, last year, a receiver was appointed to Atlantic Developments Ltd, the company who had taken over. One business, Conrock Ltd, were badly hit by these debacles, having been owed a combined €62,000 by the two other outfits.
Of course, the housing market collapsed between the time the project was envisaged and when it was completed and the huge drop in property prices meant there was little need for affordable housing schemes.
Last year, the council had to drop the prices of the 16 affordable units, with the four beds being cut from €135,000 to €102,000 and the three beds going from €125,000 to €93,000.
Last week, all the houses in the development still weren’t filled but at the opening, officials said they expect those that haven’t yet been occupied to go fairly soon.
Mayor of Clare Councillor Pat Daly officially opened the estate, while Mayor of Shannon Councillor Michael Fleming was also in attendance.
Councillor Daly paid tribute to L&M Keating Ltd, the staff of the county council’s housing department and the design team, led by Colin Yelland of Yelland Architects, for “bringing this development to successful completion in the face of the many challenges presented by the downturn in the economy”.
He paid tribute to the quality of the houses. “The scheme is designed to the highest standard and layout provides for spacious accommodation and a good quality living environment for residents. Each unit is fully fitted with a high specification finish, with emphasis on durability and energy efficiency. Its location provides for easy access to the town centre, all local amenities including the Shannon Estuary and the major employment centres of the Shannon Region.”
Councillor Patricia McCarthy, chairperson of the council’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee noted “the shift in national housing policy, which will see little or no social or affordable housing being delivered by local authority construction in the foreseeable future.”
Anne Haugh, deputy county manager commented, “I wish to pay tribute to all the staff of the council and, in particular, the staff of the housing department who, in the face of many challenges, brought this development through to successful completion and provided 22 families with homes of the highest standard.”
Parish priest, Fr Tom Ryan and Canon Bob Hanna performed an ecumenical blessing before Councillor Daly officially opened the development.
Councillors critical of €5.3m cost
THE series of problems associated with the development of Glaise na Rinne saw hot debate at Shannon Town Council meetings over the last few years and there was much criticism of the scheme again this Tuesday.
Following the official opening last week, Councillor Cathy McCafferty put forward a motion asking for a summary of costs in relation to the development.
The report put forward in response from the council’s housing section said the scheme had cost €5.3 million. The report also outlined some factors that reduced the liability to the council, although much of this funding came from other public sources, effectively taxpayers’ money.
“Department subsidy received in respect of the affordable units is €654,000. In addition, a capital grant has been received from the department for €1.012m in respect of the six social units. The balance of expenditure will be funded from the sale proceeds of the houses (estimated at €1.5m), bond income, and Part 5 funds. The estimated final debit balance on the scheme after the foregoing is applied is to be €1.4m.”
The council will have a loan requirement for this balance.
Councillor McCafferty said she was disappointed that last week’s official opening had been held in the early afternoon, which she said excluded people who had been at work.
She said she had long been of the view that Glaise na Rinne had been “the wrong scheme in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
The independent councillor said while making a profit wasn’t expected, the costs associated with the development should have been covered.
Councillor Gerry Flynn proposed sending reports on the whole matter to the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Finance. “Did taxpayers receive a fair return from this scheme?” he asked rhetorically.
Town manager Bernadette Kinsella asked Councillor Flynn to set out in writing what he wanted to be sent to the ministers and indicated that it would then be sent.
Several of the councillors said they were pleased that the development is now finished and praised the standard of workmanship involved.