THE affordable housing development at Cluain Airne should be finished by March 2011, town manager Bernadette Kinsella stated at this week’s meeting of Shannon Town Council.
However, councillors expressed their doubts about the new completion date and concerns about the lack of activity at the site.
At the meeting Councillor Cathy McCafferty introduced a motion seeking information about what is happening at Cluain Airne.
She said that there were local concerns about the future of the project. “One of the reasons for putting down this motion was that a resident of Cluain Airne had asked a foreman on the site why work had stopped and had been told that the scheme had run out of money.”
Councillor McCafferty was critical of recent comments made by the town manager to The Clare Champion when she said that the weather of last winter and the difficulties surrounding rights of way at Cluain Airne were part of the reason for the delay.
“I accept that there may have been some slippage during last winter. That was to be expected given that these houses are being built on wet and boggy land. But I find it a little ironic that the manager claims the delays were caused by people exercising their constitutional rights by objecting to the wrongful closure of their rights of way.”
She claimed that building work had continued unhindered while the dispute over the right of way went on. She said that a loan had been taken by the local authority to pay for some of the scheme and that this was to be repaid as the houses were sold. She asked if the council would still have the means to finish the development.
Councillor McCafferty claimed that the residents of the estate have been shabbily treated.
“The people of Cluain Airne remain stuck with a messy building site occupying their recreational green areas. Their rights of way to the riverside walks remain closed. Their promised parking spaces have been long fingered. The residents of this area deserve better treatment from their local authority.”
In her written response, town manager Bernadette Kinsella stated, “There have been delays in the completion of this contract arising from a number of factors, including the poor weather conditions last winter, the requirement to extinguish rights of way and general issues associated with the economic downturn. The council cognisant of the impact of these issues on contract delivery as agreed to an extension of contract completion date. It is planned that the current contract will be completed in March 2011.”
She said that there had been 147 expressions of interest in the houses and there would be communication with the interested parties in the coming weeks.
Ms Kinsella denied that work had stopped and that there are still workers on the site.
Councillor Michael Fleming said that there was no way the March 2011 deadline would be met, judging by current progress. He said it was time that something was done to help the residents.
Councillor Greg Duff said that he understood the concerns of the Cluain Airne residents and that when they were told that the new date was March 2011, they would be fearful the deadline could be moved again.
Independent Gerry Flynn said there was little point in blaming the winter weather.
“There will always be good and bad weather, this is Ireland we’re living in.”
He questioned if any penalties had been attached to slow delivery and called on the town manager to be open about the delays.
“I think manager you have to come clean here and answer what you’re being asked.
Councillor Tony McMahon said he had little faith in any dates given. “I never expected the previous deadlines to be met and I don’t know if I have any confidence in these ones either.”
Responding to some of the members concerns, Ms Kinsella said that the current work would be completed. She also said she was confident the deadline given would be met.
“There is no reason at this stage that it won’t be completed by March and I’m very confident that date will be met.”
She said that the level of demand for houses would become clear in the coming weeks.