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Clare County Council planners are considering the application.

Shannon crematorium is still on the cards

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WHILE a special meeting of Clare County Council was held on Tuesday evening to review the disposal of land at Illaunmanagh for the development of a crematorium, the way is still clear for the project to go ahead.
For it to be halted, half of the members of the local authority, 14 councillors, would have had to look for the sale of the property to not go ahead. It would appear to be very difficult for those opposed to the development to get the numbers required.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, which was attended by dozens of locals, a document outlining the views of the Concerned Shannon Residents Group was presented to the councillors.
It raised nine concerns, claiming that the site in question is not suitable, that the level of consultation engaged in was inadequate and worries were expressed about emissions from a crematorium.
Three local residents, John O’Toole, Michelle Hayes and Gary Piggott, all addressed the meeting, with Mr O’Toole and Ms Hayes both against allowing the development at the Illaunmanagh site and Mr Piggott favouring it.
Mr O’Toole said he has been asked why residents didn’t make their views known at an earlier stage, given that a crematorium at the site was first proposed towards the latter end of the previous decade.
“One question that has been coming up fairly often is why we did not object at the time. The answer is we did object at the time.”
He said that an inspector with Bord Pleanбla actually recommended refusing permission but this had been overruled.
Regarding projected commercial benefits for the town, he said they are unlikely to accrue and that people are likely to spend little money in Shannon.
“The only person who is going to gain out of this is the developer,” he surmised.
On the suitability of the site, he said it is much smaller than the sites where crematoriums have been developed in Cork and Dublin. He also said it is an important area locally.
“The entrance to the site is one of the most treasured areas in Shannon because it is part of the river walk.”
Earlier this year, Councillor Mike McKee said that when he carried out a survey, 98 of 100 people asked were in favour of allowing the crematorium. However, Mr O’Toole said that when people living in the estates adjacent to the site were surveyed by the Concerned Shannon Residents Group, there was support for allowing a crematorium in the town but not at the location in question.
Mr O’Toole concluded by saying that he was asking the councillors to “do the right thing for the residents” and that a crematorium could go ahead at another location.
Ms Hayes spoke about her fears regarding emissions from a crematorium, which would be close to her home in Gleann an Уir.
“Here in Ireland there is a lack of regulation on the running of crematoriums,” she claimed.
She also said there are already a number of local plants emitting fumes and there are high rates of cancers and respiratory illnesses locally.
On the other side, Mr Piggott said that in recent years he has had to travel for the cremations of three people close to him, undertaking a drive of well over two hours each time.
“A local crematorium would facilitate a more dignified funeral,” he claimed.
He claimed that the amount of traffic wouldn’t have an adverse impact on locals, while in relation to parking, he said that there are often hundreds of cars parked at the roadside close to Wolfe Tones and St Senan’s, without much complaint.
Councillors Gerry Flynn, Ann Norton, Clare Colleran Molloy, Pat Daly, Pat McMahon and PJ Ryan all sought the special meeting.
Addressing the meeting, Councillor Flynn said that opposition to the proposal is not based on NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) and that Shannon has frequently been the home to major developments in the past. However, he said the current proposal is not acceptable.
“I think this particular proposal is a bridge too far for a lot of the residents.”
While they had previously voted for the disposal of the land in question, both Councillors McMahon and Ryan admitted that their position had changed following further consultation with people living nearby.
Besides those who sought the meeting, Councillor McKee was the only other representative to speak and he said that it appeared emissions was not really an issue, if those opposed were in favour of allowing the crematorium to go ahead at an alternative local site.
He also claimed that while he was surveying the public on the issue he spoke to some local residents who were in favour of it, as well as one person who was opposed.
Owen Ryan

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