THE right-of-way, which residents objected to being blocked at Cluain Airne was not registered, Shannon Town Manager Bernadette Kinsella told this week’s meeting of the town council, although she accepted that things hadn’t been done correctly.
At the meeting, Councillor Cathy McCafferty put forward a motion calling for the council to examine if correct procedures had been used in relation to the temporary extinguishment of the right-of-way between Cluain Airne and Illaunagowan Point and asked for a guarantee from the manager that the right-of-way be reinstated following the temporary extinguishment.
“In proposing this motion, I am first of all acting in solidarity with the residents of Cluain Airne and the other residents who have been protesting,” she said.
With regard to an advertisement placed in The Clare Champion in relation to the closure of the right-of-way, she claimed there had been inaccuracies. “It was inappropriate and it omitted certain information that is necessary to comply with the legislation,” she claimed.
Councillor McCafferty said that it appeared that the procedure that had been followed had been in compliance with legislation on road closures but not rights-of-way.
Councillor Tony McMahon said that the council had dealt with the matter in “a very clumsy way” and that its actions had flown in the face of proper procedure. He said that the concerns of the people of Shannon hadn’t been dealt with sensitively and that the right-of-way should be reinstated.
The handling of the matter had been “a bit haphazard” according to Councillor Gerry Flynn, while he said the residents’ protests had been necessary. “If they hadn’t reacted, they would have ended up with the rights-of-way closed.”
He said it appeared that Clare County Council were “hell bent” on development and he speculated that this may be to avoid the expense of maintaining green areas.
Councillor Greg Duff backed the motion, claiming the council’s handling of the issue had been very haphazard, a sentiment Councillor Patricia McCarthy echoed.
She claimed that residents felt their rights had been “ridden over roughshod”. Councillor McCarthy also said that the paths in question had been in use for 40 years and couldn’t just be closed.
She claimed that Councillor Gerry Flynn had not actually voted against the proposals at county council level, although he had voiced concerns about what was proposed.
Councillor McCarthy also said that when the decision was made on the Cluain Airne, that an alternative 100 acres of land which is now available, was not then at the council’s disposal.
Responding to the concerns raised, town manager Bernadette Kinsella said that the decision to build the affordable housing development had been taken in response to an identified local need.
She said that the upset caused was entirely unintentional. “The manner of the temporary closure has caused a huge amount of grief and there was no intent on the council’s part to do that.”
Ms Kinsella said that the area at the centre of the controversy was not a registered right-of-way. “It is not a registered right-of-way and it first came to our attention when residents got onto councillors and to the office.”
She said there had not been an obligation to go through a legal procedure due to the right-of-way not being registered. Ms Kinsella also claimed that it was not proposed to extinguish the right-of-way but that it was a temporary closure.
Ms Kinsella also said that maps outlining the closure and the areas effected would be put on public display.