Residents raise concerns over old school house in Limerick

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald

Members of Grange Residents' Association Anthony Burton, Pat Fitzgerald and Kieran Hourigan of the old school house in Grange. Pictures: Mike Cowhey
A GROUP of residents in Grange say it is a “disgrace” the way they have been ignored by Limerick County Council after investing €20,000 in doing up the grounds of the old school house and adjoining road.

A GROUP of residents in Grange say it is a “disgrace” the way they have been ignored by Limerick County Council after investing €20,000 in doing up the grounds of the old school house and adjoining road.

The Grange Cross Residents’ Association say they spent €20,000 and invested 10,000 man hours on doing up the grounds of the building “and have not got a cent” off of Limerick County Council who, they say, decided to open a car park on the grounds late last week without notifying them.

“Our issue is very simple, Limerick County Council won’t talk to us,” said Kieran Hourigan, chairman of the Grange Cross Residents’ Association Ltd.

“We have cleaned up five miles of road from the Hamlet to the Cross of Grange and a mile and a half back the other road – we have taken the scrub off the side of it. Two cars couldn’t pass here up to two years ago. This was paid by the people. We had all the grounds work done, the green area, the kerbs, we planted those trees as we are trying to start a memorial park here for the people of Grange, and Limerick County Council came in here last week and they put tar and chip on it to open a car park.”

The association say they are seeking clarification as to who owns the building.

“We want Limerick County Council to clarify do they own the building? Show us the paperwork. Where was the deal done? Who was the money was paid to? Where are the deeds? Where is the folio number.”

The residents’ association have also raised concerns over the safety of the building which they claim continues to be used by two other groups from the area.

“We commissioned a health and safety and structural engineers report and we sent it into the council. It contained issues with the building. They acted on one this morning - they have turned off the electricity to the building just this morning,” said Anthony Burton, secretary of the residents’ association last Friday. “We reported that a year and a half ago yet they have still let people into the building.”

Mr Burton contacted the Leader this Tuesday to say the council had opened the car park and added that a cake sale took place on Sunday with no power in the building.

Pat Fitzgerald, assistant chairman of the association, said they have pointed out “fundamental flaws” and safety issues with the building for nearly two years and “at every stage, we have been rebutted by Limerick County Council”.

“There is no emergency lighting, sub-standard lighting, no hot running water, no proper toilet facilities, and a rodent problem,” he said.

“There are a number of local groups still meeting here. There are 60 kids from the boys’ scouts meeting here and the ICA.

We have no issue with them - we are thinking of the safety issue,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

According to Mr Hourigan, the building is, at present, not fit for purpose.

“Lets call a spade a spade, you are going to have a certain amount of vermin at this time of the year but it was excessive back in 2012. I was catching between seven to eight rats a day inside in my property,” said Mr Hourigan who lives close to the building.

“It’s very simple - all we want is a level playing field. Come out and talk to us. We are willing to go out and give the next 10 years to raise money to do this up but we want it for everyone.

“They claim they have been told that because the building is a protected structure “a screw can’t be put on the wall but then a steel beam was bolted into a rotten beam”.

“This is a polling station and we highlighted to the council that they were bringing people into this building that was defective. They invited 370 people in here to vote at the last election but still they could come out here today and turn off the electricity.”

In response to a number of questions sent by the Limerick Leader to the council in relation to matters raised by the association, the council issued a statement which read: ”Over the past months Limerick City and County Council have engaged with a number of local groups that use the old school house in Grange, in an effort to put in place a representative building management structure that allows use of this publicly-owned community facility.

“In this regard and to optimise the use of the building by the community groups involved, each of the groups is requested to enter into a formal agreement with the council. The council is anxious that this matter be finalised as soon as possible and looks forward to engaging with all interested parties.” A council spokesperson said the building is owned by the council and added that the premises has been inspected and no vermin are present. “And there is correspondence from the HSE confirming the building is safe.”