Homeowners living in one of Longford’s most troublesome estates are to travel to Brussels over the coming weeks in a desperate bid to negotiate a sweeping evacuation of the site.
In a candid interview with the Leader over the weekend, several residents from the town’s much publicised Gleann Riada estate also revealed they have engaged solicitors after being told by HSE bosses their houses are unsafe to live in.
“If necessary,” was the reply given by chairperson of the estate’s resident’s committee Martina Conboy about the prospect of legal action being taken against the council. “The council have said from the start that they are not in a position to help us. Prior to the explosion at number 28, all I got from the very start when sewage was building up on the back of my lawns was that ‘oh that’s a private estate, you need to contact the developer’.”
Engineer John McNamara, who acts as a representative for several householders, said the prospect of taking the fallout to European level was a very real possibility.
“The residents will be out in Europe in the next two to three weeks with an MEP making a submission to Liam Cashman and Anne Long (EU officials),” he stated.
“The EU has the authority and power to fine Longford County Council and we are exploring all avenues. The simple fact is that there has been no remedial work carried out to improve the sewage system in the estate, proper level surveys or anything.”
A further source of contention for occupants, according to Mr McNamara and three homeowners who spoke with the Leader on Saturday, surrounds a newly devised risk assessment works which are presently being carried out.
In a five page letter distributed to residents by Longford County Council on November 9, homeowners were informed Dublin firm Tobin Consulting Engineers would lead that operation.
However, residents this week hit back, claiming work commencement notices did not arrive on time.
They also fear having to foot the bill for risk assessment works after correspondence from the local authority suggested monies “could be recouped” from mortgage holders on the estate.
“It came three days after the work had started,” said one aggrieved homeowner and mother of two. “We were the first people to move in here in 2003 and paid €139,000 for our house. We couldn’t give it away now even if we wanted. Are we are supposed to get a company to come in and pay for it ourselves? They are asking for the likes of CCTV cameras, things we can never afford. We need to be moved out.”
Another resident, Lina Solovjov, originally from Estonia said asking for European intervention may be their only way out of the crisis.
“I have collapsed in this house three times for no reason at all,” she said, sipping on a cup of coffee. “We know it is dangerous to live here, we are breathing in these gases. We want to get out of here.”