22 May 2022

‘Regeneration is at a standstill in Longford’, fumes Warnock

Cllr Gerry Warnock

Cllr Gerry Warnock

Regeneration in Longford town is “at a standstill” according to Cllr Gerry Warnock, who expressed his frustration at the monthly meeting of Longford County Council recently.

In a lengthy address to his council colleagues, Cllr Warnock mentioned a number of projects that had not yet commenced in the county town.

“We were promised at the end of 2021 that we were going to hit the ground running in January 2022 with shovels in the ground, with the Market Square element of Longford Connected. That was all to take place at the beginning of Quarter One,” said Cllr Warnock.

“Hot on its heels was the commencement of the Canal Spur project at the rear of the Market Square which is a seismic project that’s going to have a serious positive impact on that part of town.

“Neither of those projects has progressed one iota since last year when we were promised we would certainly see shovels in the ground. Why is it so difficult to advance projects within Longford town? What are the blockages? Why are we continuously being put on the long finger?

“One could be forgiven for thinking it was actually sabotage if we didn’t know different,” he added.

“I cannot understand - when we have the money and all available to us to carry out the projects - where these blockages are, why the resources are not helping to make these things happen. We, as members, feel there’s absolutely nobody listening to us and nobody seems to really grasp the importance of getting our county town off the ground again.”

Cllr Warnock was backed up by a number of his council colleagues who expressed concerns at the lack of action on a number of projects, but it was noted that staff reshuffling within the council, as well as serious inflation issues were having a major impact on the commencement of works.

Chief Executive Officer at Longford County Council, Paddy Mahon, noted the concerns of the members but said that Cllr Warnock’s use of the word ‘sabotage’ was “unwelcome”.

“Cllr Warnock mentioned something about sabotage. I take exception to that. I don’t know who that referred to but we’re all really committed,” he insisted.

“I use the example of the N4 where we and yourselves, the elected members, worked so well to get a project back on track and to hear that term is unwelcome.”

Cllr Warnock, however, was quick to clarify that his use of the word was not directed at anyone in particular.

“What I said was one could be forgiven for thinking that these initiatives were being sabotaged,” he explained.

“And they are being sabotaged by events. They are being sabotaged by inactivity. It’s not that anybody is there sabotaging them. It’s the frustration that’s being built around the non-action here in Longford town.

“We’re talking about these projects for what seems to be years now. Regeneration was set up in 2015 and the very focus of regeneration and major objective of it was to get our county town back rocking again after a lot of very, very lean years following the economic downturn. And that simply has not happened.

“The simple fact of the matter is that regeneration in Longford town is at a standstill. The simple matter is I am extremely frustrated at this and it is not the first time I have voiced these frustrations. I did get assurances that there was going to be sunny days but there’s been too many false dawns around the commencement of projects here in Longford town.”

Director of Services John Brannigan noted the support the elected members have shown for various projects but said that just because there is a funding announcement “does not mean the money is sitting in a bank account” and that there needs to be a business plan and other work done.

He also noted the increase in material costs, which he said has made it difficult to get contractors to start work.

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