The rear of the Roche home in Abbeyfeale
THE Limerick couple whose backyard terrace was ripped away by the Feale less than a fortnight ago are deeply disappointed that high-level talks at ministerial level this week have come to nothing.
“I was very disappointed. I had my hopes built up and was hoping for a positive outcome,” Eamon Roche, Abbeyfeale said.
On Tuesday, Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan and officials of Limerick City and County Council met with the Minister for the OPW, Kevin Boxer Moran in Dublin in a bid to find a solution for the Roches.
“The problem is that the OPW and the council are not taking responsibility,” Mr Roche said. Now, he understands, the Minister for Housing is to be asked to get involved.
He acknowledged the council had sent out an engineer to do reports on their house, one for a temporary solution, the other for a longer-term solution.
“We would like them to come and do repairs to keep the house safe until they decide to do the big fix,” he said. “There is no reason why it can’t be done but it is down to who is responsible.”
Director of services with the council, Kieran Lehane, who attended the Dublin meeting, told the Limerick Leader that the riverbank along this stretch of the Feale was covered by riparian law, meaning that the land-owners themselves were responsible.
“We are not responsible for the bank,” he said. “The OPW doesn’t have responsibility.”
Any change to who was responsibility could only come through a change of policy at government level, he explained.
But he stressed that attempts were being made to find a solution, through Minister Damien English in the Department of Housing.
“That is the focus of attention.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Liam Galvin who lives in Abbeyfeale, said: “We can’t wash our hands of this.”
He hopes to call a special meeting of Limerick City and County Council on the matter.
“I think Patrick O’Donovan as junior minister for finance and Minister Moran who is responsible for the OPW are shirking their responsibility,” Cllr Michael Collins, chairman of the Newcastle West Municipal District said.
“It could be dealt with locally but the funding can’t be sourced locally. Minister O’Donovan is in finance. He holds the key to the safe. The council is willing to do the work once the money is released.”
But, he added: “While that is going on, the house is still under threat.”
Minister Patrick O’Donovan told the Limerick Leader that he and Minister Moran had already spoken to Minister for Housing, Damien English and intended to meet him again on Wednesday night. The biggest concern at the moment is the safety of the Roche couple, he stressed, as the extent of the erosion of the riverbank wasn’t fully known.
“I am anxious to see a solution. It is a desperate situation that they are in.”
“We have had one-off situations before in relation to buildings,” he continued.
It took time to resolve but not necessarily legislation, he argued.
“This is being taken extremely seriously,” he emphasised.