Residents claim €500,000 will not fix estate faults
More than €500,000 in funding has been secured for remedial works at a Longford housing estate where two gas explosions have taken place due to faulty sewerage works.
However, residents at the Gleann Riada estate – whose homes have been declared “fundamentally unsafe” by the HSE – say the money will not go far enough and are pleading for an evacuation.
“Of course, we are glad there is some movement but it will not fix the problem,” said Lena Solovjov, originally from Estonia, who bought her two-bed home for €150,000 in December 2004. “Even if they try to change the pipes for this money they cannot give us guarantees our homes will be safe – because the place is sliding down. There was a bog here before; everyone in Longford knew that.”
Longford County Council confirmed yesterday it had secured €360,000 in funding through a developer’s bond, in addition to a €200,000 grant from the Department of the Environment to carry out remedial works at the estate.
It is understood to be one of the first times a local authority has secured an insurance bond from a now defunct builder. The Eassda group, which built the estate, collapsed in 2010 with debts of €33 million. It was owned by Co Antrim-based businessman, Alastair Jackson, who was declared bankrupt in the UK earlier this year. The firm was said to be the largest Northern Ireland-based customer of the now defunct Irish Nationwide Building Society, which merged with Anglo Irish Bank after the bank collapsed to form IBRC.
Barry Lynch, director of services at the council, said it took a number of months to secure the bond. The council had to prepare a detailed technical report for the IBRC and it had to be approved by the bank’s credit committee, he said.
The council said it had engaged a contractor to assess the state of the sewerage works. “Once this is done the council will finalise its plans to remedy any defects in the common areas and will proceed to carry out these works,” it added in a statement.
It said it was arranging for consultants to carry out assessments in individual houses. “It is planned to make contact with property owners later this week to establish if they have carried out the assessments which were previously recommended on HSE advice.”
The residents are meeting again on Friday to consider their position but yesterday they said they were continuing their campaign for an evacuation, and are petitioning MEPs on the issue as well as considering legal action.