Ghost estate protest hears of homeowners’ journey ‘to hell and back’
Homeowners still paying mortgage but have no access to Ard na Deirge estate in Co Clare
Protesters call for services at the Ard na Deirge ghost estate in Killaloe, Co Clare, yesterday. Photograph: Eamon Ward
The homeowners on a ghost estate “have been to hell and back over the past seven years”, according to a speaker at a protest meeting yesterday.
Michelle Burke told a crowd of 80 supporters that she hopes a meeting arranged with Clare County Council will allow her and husband William Buck, and two other householders, to move into their homes.
At the lunchtime protest demonstrators held up “Call in our Bond” and “We want our Services” in front of the locked gates of the unfinished Ard na Deirge estate in Killaloe.
Addressing the crowd, Ms Burke called on the council to call in the bond to allow the estate to be finished so that they can move into their homes.
The married couple is paying almost €1,400 on a mortgage and rent every month after buying a house in the estate on September 7th, 2006.
The couple have been paying the monthly €1,400 for almost four years and spent more than €300,000 on the four-bedroom house in Ard na Deirge.
However, they are unable to move into the home after the builder went into receivership and AIB took possession of the estate through a receiver.
Fighting back tears
An investor is in the process of completing the purchase of the estate and Ms Burke told the crowd
that they have been advised that the new owner “has no intention of finishing the estate in the near future”.
Fighting back tears, she said: “This is detrimental to us. We stand here every day and we look at a house that we pay €1,400 between mortgage and rent for every month and no one is helping us.”
Ms Burke said the insurance bond allows the council to go in and finish the development and connect services to the homes.
“We don’t want just a meeting, we want a result and if we don’t get a result, we will be at Clare County Council offices protesting this time next week,” she said. “We are key stakeholders in this development and we have never been acknowledged as such.”
Ms Burke said if she doesn’t get a satisfactory response from the council, she intends to move into her home anyway.
“If people aren’t going to take care of us, why should we take care of them?” she asked.
Retired businessman John Ryan snr had sale agreed of €315,000 on his own home when the barriers went up around the Ard na Deirge estate.
“I had to withdraw sale of my house. God knows what it is worth now. I took out a bridging loan of €270,000 and I’m still paying that. We have full and clear title to our properties but we can’t move in – you can’t lock someone out of their own property,” he said.
Very hurt, very angry
Mr Ryan operated hair dressing salons in Limerick.
“Myself and my wife started a small little business, employing two and finished with over 100 . . . We did more than most . . . I am very hurt, very angry.”
Council planning chief Ger Dollard said he would meet the homeowners. However, he added: “The overall issue here appears to be getting lost in the focus on a bond, which doesn’t represent the solution to the problem, ie satisfactory completion of the development. The responsibility for completing this development rests primarily with the receiver and AIB who are currently in control of the property. There is a bond under the previous permission which is held by the council. Drawing down of any bond involves a complex process with the bondholder.
“In any event it is not open to the council to enter on a site which it doesn’t own and is in the control of others and undertake works on private property even if no other issues arose.”