19 Aug 2022

Limerick councillor storms out of virtual meeting in protest

Limerick councillor storms out of virtual meeting in protest

Cllr PJ Carey, Sinn Fein, outside the controversial unfinished apartments in Wolfe Tone Street, Kilmallock | PICTURE: Adrian Butler

A SINN Fein councillor stormed out of a meeting in relation to whether an unfinished apartment block in Kilmallock should be knocked.

Speaking virtually at a Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district meeting, Cllr PJ Carey said: “In protest at not being allowed to speak on this I am not voting, actually I am leaving this meeting immediately.”

This dates back to the May meeting when Cllr Carey put down a motion that an unfinished development of seven apartments on Wolfe Tone Street in Kilmallock be sold to the “interested property developer and brought back into viable housing provision, subject to a site specific flood risk assessment”.

The council’s reply said they made a decision to demolish the unfinished development based on structural engineers’ reports and reports from the planning department regarding the risk of flooding.

At that meeting, Cllr Carey said the apartments are around 70% completed and the developer’s structural engineer “advised him to purchase the unfinished development”.

Cllr Mike Donegan said a motion he put down last September to knock the apartments was passed unanimously by councillors.

“This building is an eyesore. It is a spot for anti social behaviour and flooding came up close to the building. It is one of the remaining eyesores in the community albeit I am well aware of the shortage of housing,” said Cllr Donegan, who added that there are plans for the site in conjunction with the riverside park as part of the loop walk.

Cllr Carey countered that it is an eyesore now but it won’t be if it was completed.

At this month’s municipal district meeting, Cllrs Carey, Ger Mitchell and Eddie Ryan put down a motion that the seven apartments “be put on the market with a view to be sold to any interested developers and brought back into viable housing provision”.

Cllr Carey said the developer’s structural engineer’s report and the council’s one are “almost identical”. The Sinn Fein councillor said in the council’s report the ground floor levels at planning stage were identified as 88.2m above sea level, “well above the 100-year flood level for this site which is 82.5m above sea level”. He asked for a response.

Cllr Mike Donegan showed a photo on his phone which he said was of “water right up to the door level of the apartments”. “It is in a flood plain,” he said.

Cathaoirleach John Egan said they were proceeding to the vote.

Cllr Carey asked again for an answer regarding the height over sea level.

Trevor McKechnie, senior executive engineer, said the report says the proposed ground floor at planning stage was identified at 88.2m.

“There is obviously a mistake in what the developer put in first day. A consultant, on behalf the OPW, put this site within flood zone A,” said Mr McKechnie.

Cathaoirleach John Egan said he was proceeding to the vote.

“You (Cllr Carey) had your opportunity at a two and half hour special meeting on this. No further discussion on the matter,” said Cllr Egan.

Cllr Carey replied, “That was a workshop, not a public meeting”. Cllr Egan said: “It is time to make a decision.”

It was at this point Cllr Carey left. The remaining councillors (Eddie Ryan had sent his apologies) – Mike Donegan, John Egan, Gerald Mitchell, Martin Ryan and Brigid Teefy voted unanimously not to rescind Cllr Donegan’s motion from last September to knock the apartments.

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