Teachers at St Flannan’s College in Ennis are opposing HSE plans for a €25 million, 100-bed community hospital on a Church-owned greenfield site on the college grounds.
In a statement today, staff at the secondary school said the proposed development “will have a seriously negative impact on the student population”.
The HSE lodged plans for the care facility last August with Clare County Council. It wants to replace the existing St Joseph’s Hospital in Ennis. But teaching staff at the secondary school said the greenfield site at St Flannan’s College “is the last remaining site of its kind in Ennis”.
They said that “urban sprawl is taking up so much of our green spaces each year”.
“Once this land is built upon, it will be gone forever. We understand the need for a new community hospital in Ennis. However, we believe that there are several more appropriate sites available for development.”
The statement is accompanied by a photo of over 60 staff standing on the site around a large improvised sign with the slogan Keep It Green.
The college staff’s opposition to the development is at odds with the endorsement of the project by Bishop of Killaloe, Fintan Monahan.
The planning application was made after the diocese’s property arm, the Killaloe Diocesan Trust, agreed to sell the land to the HSE.
After plans were lodged last year, Bishop Monahan said “this wonderful proposed development” by the HSE “will be of great benefit to our community”.
Bishop Monahan said that “the Diocese is very pleased to be able to facilitate the HSE in providing a state of the art facility for the benefit of the communities of Ennis and County Clare in general in a location which is ideal for such a facility”.
In their statement, the St Flannan’s staff state that on any evening during the academic year, there are many teams training on the pitches playing hurling, Gaelic football, camogie, ladies’ football, soccer and athletics.
The staff said the environmental impact of the development “would be significant”.
They said “incredible” trees would be removed from the grounds of the school as part of the development.
The planning application is currently on hold after Clare Co Council raised serious concerns that the proposed development, which is on lands zoned for community use, could prejudice the future expansion of the school.
In a request for further information, the council asked the HSE to seek confirmation from the school authorities or management that the lands are not required for any potential future expansion.
The staff statement followed an ex-principal of the college, Colm McDonagh formally objected to the proposal.
A total of 11 objections have been lodged against the scheme including one by Colm McDonagh, an ex-principal of St Flannan’s.