THE leasing of the playground at Inis Ealga to local residents for a nominal fee provoked lively debate at Tuesday’s Shannon Electoral Area meeting.
Councillor Gerry Flynn voiced his reservations about the proposal, saying residents had expressed concerns to him, and that members were being asked to vote on “a pig in a poke”.
He also claimed that Clare County Council is involved in a number of what he called “cosy arrangements”.
A report from Kieran O’Donnell of Clare County Council indicated the current situation with the playground.
“In 2007, Clare County Council approved the Inis Ealga Residents’ Association for a playground grant of €83,333. Their proposal was to locate the playground on a green area in the centre of the estate.
“One of the conditions of receiving grant assistance under the Clare County Council Community Playground Grant Scheme is that the title to the land that the playground is developed in must be in the name of the playground development committee and the title can be either freehold or leasehold.
“In order to facilitate the Inis Ealga Residents’ Association, it is now proposed to lease to them the lands in question for a period of 15 years. The cost of the lease will be €1 per annum. The attached map shows the land in question and the area that is proposed to be transferred is .525 acres.”
He stated that local residents were happy to take it over.
“This matter was discussed at the monthly meeting of Shannon Electoral Area in September 2009. Confirmation was sought by the members on the willingness of the Inis Ealga Residents’ Association to sign the lease agreement and this confirmation has now been received.”
Councillor Flynn said that the residents would have “an onerous task” if they took over the playground, with matters like insurance to be dealt with.
However, town manager Bernadette Kinsella stated that the residents were happy with the arrangement.
“Since the last meeting, estate management have met with the residents and they have indicated their willingness to take it over.”
But Councillor Flynn said this should have been in writing, to take away any uncertainty.
“You can’t expect us to vote for a pig in a poke,” he commented.
During the debate, he also claimed that less and less information was being made available to councillors regarding decisions being made. He also accused the council of having signed “cosy arrangements” all around Clare, something Ms Kinsella objected to.
Councillor Patricia McCarthy said that people in Inis Ealga were anxious to take control of the playground so that they could stamp out anti-social behaviour there.
She said that at the moment, locals didn’t have the capacity to stop people entering the playground or to take action against people misbehaving there.
Ms Kinsella said that the residents wouldn’t be forced to sign the lease agreement and Councillor McCarthy said there was no danger of an agreement being foisted upon them. “If they don’t sign, it doesn’t happen,” she said.
Councillor Tony Mulcahy said that if the local committee were willing to take over the playground, it should be accepted.
It was decided that subject to residents agreeing, the lease would be given to them.