A community project aimed at providing much needed playground facilities in Gortletteragh, South Leitrim, may have to be abandoned.
Cllr Enda Stenson highlighted the problems experienced by local groups in securing insurance for playgrounds.
He said the situation facing the community group behind the playground project in Gortletteragh was particularly frustrating.
“They secured the funding for the playground but the insurance is very prohibitive for a small club to be able to finance,” he pointed out.
“This project won't be able to go ahead unless the insurance is financed for the playground. That is the reality.”
Cllr Ita Reynolds Flynn, who is involved with the community group behind the Gortletteragh project said that the situation was especially frustrating because the voluntary group had worked so hard to secure €62,000 in funding for the facility.
“I don't know how we can insure this ourselves,” she admitted.
Cllr Mulligan said he was familiar with the situation in Gortletteragh and insisted that it would be “appropriate” that the Council adopt a proper policy regarding the provision of insurance for playgrounds.
Cllr Sean McGowan observed that the difficulties facing Gortletteragh were also being faced by other groups seeking insurance.
“Rural communities are finding it increasingly difficult to meet these costs,” he observed.
Cllr Felim Gurn said that a solution has to be found as playgrounds are a “virtual part” of communities.
“Surely to god a project (like Gortletteragh playground) shouldn't fall apart because they can't finance the insurance,” he said.
Director of Service, Mary Quinn said that her understanding is that the Council only insured those amenities that are on the properties owned by the local authority.
“In this case (Gortletteragh) it is a community facility,” she said.
Although she acknowledged that there is to be a meeting on the matter this Friday between the group and the Council to “discuss these issues”.
Cllr Enda Stenson said it would be a lot easier if the local authority came up with an umbrella insurance cover for playgrounds.
“It is virtually impossible to get local groups insurance for something like playgrounds. This Council is never found wanting in the call to help out if something is for the good of a community and this project certainly is.”
Cllr Reynolds Flynn said the seriousness of the situation could not be overstated.
“The community group are looking at returning the money if they can't get additional money for the insurance - it's that serious,” she said.
Cllr Enda McGloin suggested that Irish Public Bodies (IPB), which provide insurance for local authorities, could perhaps provide a scheme to cover sites such as community playgrounds.
However Head of Finance, Vincent Dwyer said that the role of the IPB is to provide insurance for the local authority infrastructure and he “wouldn't be optimistic that they would have the risk appetite to go outside this”.
However he said the Council could discuss this with IPB.
Cllr Finola Armstrong McGuire said that with the rise in needed for facilities such as this, especially in the last two years, a solution has to be found.
Her words were echoed by Cllr Sean McDermott.
Chairperson, Cllr Paddy O'Rourke said that to be short the money for insurance, to fall at the last step, is a “terrible shame”.
“Quite radical thinking is needed by the local authority on this,” he said.
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