Cllr John Sheahan
FRUSTRATION simmered at this Wednesday’s meeting of local councillors in Newcastle West who fumed against what they felt was a lack of progress on providing a new graveyard for Abbeyfeale.
“There is no will to progress this,” Cllr John Sheahan declared. At a previous meeting, in a bid to move the project forward, councillors had asked that an estimate be drawn up of what it would cost to develop a site at Clash Rd, the only site out of 17 examined that had passed the crucial percolation test.
But councillors were told this Wednesday that such costings were not yet available.
However, Cllr Sheahan claimed, the Clash site owner had not even been contacted by the council. If they didn’t even know the cost of the site, they couldn’t move to the next stage , he argued.
People needed to be told, he said. The Abbeyfeale graveyard, Cllr Sheahan said, was one of three issues “we need to get off this table between now and next June.” But he did not detect any urgency on the matter.
Director of services Gordon Daly rejected Cllr Sheahan’s charge of an absence of will. There is a distinction between a lack of outcome and a lack of effort, he said, pointing out that a huge amount of work had been done.
Seventeen sites had been examined and tests carried out and there had been numerous internal meetings as well as meetings with auctioneers, he told councillors.
“We are still looking at other sites,” he said, arguing that the percolation test alone would not necessarily make Clash Rd a suitable site.
“That is only one criteria,” he said. Other issues would also have to be taken into account for such a capital project. “Concerns have been expressed about the overall cost,” he continued and they would have to look at value for money.
The work of costing the Clash Rd project, “isn’t completed yet”, Mr Daly said. “In tandem with doing that, we will continue to see are there other sites. Maybe we need to look further afield, a mile outside Abbeyfeale.”
But Cllr Sheahan said the “cost element is a red herring”.
The cost of a plot in Limerick was the dearest in the country, he said, at €1,100, and a new graveyard such as the one opened in Kilmallock had 350 plots. “Cost that up,” he challenged.
“I don’t believe there is any will around this table to do it. There is no urgency on this.”
Councillors were frustrated about the matter, Cllr Francis Foley said, arguing that a cut-off on looking for new sites needed to be agreed.
The Clash site, Cllr Seamus Browne felt, would be extremely expensive to develop. “I think we need to have those costs,” he said.
“On a personal note,” Cllr Jerome Scanlan said, “I have been getting harrassing calls from a person with a vested interest in selling land. When that borders on harrassment, I have a problem.”