A war of words broke out at last Monday's meeting of Carrick-on-Shannon Municipal District over a proposal by Leitrim County Council to develop a site in the Attirory area of the town for social housing.
The proposal by the local authority is to develop the three acre site for 24 houses by accessing it through the existing Ros na hInse housing estate and this has met with strong local opposition.
The matter intensified recently when agents for the council carrying out a soil test on the land broke through the boundary from Ros na hInse which led to a stand-off with local residents.
However, a meeting between Attirory Residents Committee and Leitrim County Council was held last Wednesday, February 21, and both sides expressed their satisfaction at how that meeting progressed.
A delegation of residents addressed the meeting and “are pleased with the professional and respectful manner with which the proceedings were conducted. Leitrim County Council explained the planning process that must be completed. Leitrim County Council promised full engagement with Attirory Residents Committee on the process and its findings,” a spokesperson for the group told the Leitrim Observer.
“Attirory Residents Committee accept the process that must be completed and look forward to engaging with Leitrim County Council in a positive and meaningful way,” the spokesperson added.
However, at last Monday's meeting, Independent councillor, Des Guckian levelled a string of accusations at the Council executive and said they were “bullying” and “terrorising” the local residents and accused them of acting illegally and described the council as “neighbours from hell.”
Cllr Guckian tabled a notice of motion deploring the Council's action of invading the privacy of the residents by breaking a gap in the boundary which led to floods and muck deposits.
He accused the Council of “unauthorised access” and requested they remove the access gate and reinstate the boundary.
Cllr Guckian described it as “a pre-emptive strike” by the Council and said “it is a robbery of their (residents) rights.”
“You have no idea what is proper negotiation and you have no right to be there,” said Cllr Guckian.
Director of Service, Mary Quinn explained that Council officials had met with residents of Ros na hInse last Wednesday and denied there was any bullying or intimidation.
She said the meeting was constructive and there are some issues that have to be addressed going forward.
“At no point was there any illegal activity, we are not acting in a terrorising manner, we are not bullying anyone. We will work our way through the process to an end point,” she said.
The Cathaoirleach and the other councillors of the Municipal District took issue with the wording used by Cllr Guckian and disassociated themselves from it.
Cllr Seadhna Logan, Cathaoirleach, described the language used as “unhelpful.” He again stated he found it hard to oppose social housing given the need for same in the county. He commended the delegation on their professionalism on what is a very emotive and difficult situation.
Cllr Enda Stenson said he would never describe the council executive in the language used. He admitted consultation should have been better but due process has to be adhered to and, once completed, he is quite prepared to stand up and vote against the development.
Cllr Sinead Guckian said she was disappointed with the lack of communication prior to the soil test but said the meeting last week was very productive. She too disassociated herself from “the provocative language used.”
“We are more than capable of moving forward in a positive way,” she said.
Cllr Finola Armstrong-McGuire agreed that last Wednesday's meeting made progress and said she believes this matter will be brought to an end that, hopefully, the residents will be happy with.
Cllr Sean McGowan said the residents put their point of view across very well at the meeting and said he believes the access point is “too narrow” but said due process has to be gone through.
Cllr Des Guckian said he gathered from what was said that “councillors on the other side are quite happy with the attack on the residents.”