THE provision of a crematorium in Shannon has become a possibility once again.
A proposal to dispose of a piece of land to a man who wants to develop it, is set to come before Clare County Council. If it happens, it will be the first crematorium in the county and, indeed, the first in the West of Ireland.
Originally proposed a number of years ago by the late Sean Hillery and Tony McMahon, both former county councillors, the use of a site at Illaunmanagh, close to the cemetery in Shannon has been controversial since the idea first arose. The matter resurfaced at Wednesday’s meeting of Shannon Municipal District Councillors.
While most of the members were supportive of the development, Shannon-based Councillor Gerry Flynn likened the council executive to a previous government who, he claimed, had kept putting referendums before the people until they got the answer they wanted.
On the other side, Sinn Féin’s Mike McKee said he wants to back the proposal, as he feels there is lots of support in Shannon for such a venture.
Introducing the item at Wednesday’s meeting, Clare County Council senior executive officer, Michael McNamara, said Jim Cranwell had written to the council on the matter and there is a request that the council dispose of the land required for the sum of €140,000. He noted the expiry date for planning at the site is 2019.
Councillor Flynn responded, “This is akin to the government and the treaties. Ye keep revisiting it until ye get the result ye want.”
Mr McNamara replied that the only reason it was back before the council was that Mr Cranwell had written to the local authority. He also said that it is only the elected members that have the authority to make a decision on the matter.
Councillor Flynn noted that very little time has passed since the local authority decided not to sell the land to Mr Cranwell.
“Last July, the full body voted not to sell this land. Less than a year ago.”
The outspoken independent, who is considering running in the next general election, said Shannon’s population is ageing and that land had been secured for a burial ground. He claimed an individual is now looking to come in and develop a facility “for bodies from all over Ireland and beyond”.
He claimed the site in question is unsuitable and that the one at Ringaskiddy is on what he called “an expansive area”, whiel the one at Newland’s Cross is on parkland. Councillor Flynn added that the site in Shannon is in a cul de sac.
However, Councillor McKee, the only other Shannon-based member of the local authority, was of a different mind and said his position on the proposal has changed since last summer.
“Last July I voted against it because I was in favour of the other one in the Clarecastle area. I thought that was a very good proposal,” he admitted.
However, with the Clarecastle one no longer a runner, he said he shouldn’t have opposed the Shannon proposal.
“I was wrong to do so, I hadn’t discussed it with people,” he added.
The Sinn Féin councillor said he had put out a question on social media and got an overwhelmingly positive response to it. He also went to the town centre to get views from the public.
“I met 100 people. Out of those, 98 were positive and wanted a crematorium built. Two didn’t want it.”
While he acknowledged it would be going into a cul de sac, he said there are actually three roads into the site.
He also said that more and more local people are going to Cork and Dublin now for cremation, who would rather not have to travel so far at a difficult time.
“They have told me what a heartbreaking and lonely journey it is,” he said.
Councillor Pat McMahon pointed out that the local area councillors cannot make a decision on it and that it will have to go back to the full council.
Cratloe-based independent PJ Ryan said he is backing the proposal, which he said could generate business for local restaurants, bars and hotels.
Chairman of the municipal district, Councillor Cathal Crowe, said that while he had concerns about access in the past, he had visited the site and saw that there are different ways to get into it. He said that such concerns might be addressed by imposing planning conditions.
The possible disposal of the land at Illaunmanagh is set to come before the full council in the coming weeks. Planning permission already exists for the development and runs until 2019.