Residents in town housing estate are “living in fear”

Residents in a half finished Co Longford housing estate are “living in fear” because of unrelenting health and safety concerns, it has emerged.

Residents in a half finished Co Longford housing estate are “living in fear” because of unrelenting health and safety concerns, it has emerged.

Homeowners living in Longford town’s Gleann Riada development, just off the town’s main Strokestown Road, have become increasingly anxious ever since emergency services were called to deal with an explosion in March.

Speaking at the recentmonthly meeting of Longford County Council, Cllr Peggy Nolan said the outcome could have been a lot worse.

“I am in constant contact with residents out there,” she said. “What happened out in Gleann Riada could have been a fatality. Thank God it wasn’t. One woman who has three little kids, with the explosion, two doors up was living in fear.”

The incident, believed to have resulted from a build-up of methane gas, blew a front sitting room window from its hinges with its occupants still inside.

Cllr Nolan said, despite the estate being classed as a private residential development, it was incumbent on local authority housing staff to investigate.

“It’s immaterial who owns the site, we have a duty of care and we have to pursuse these people to the bitter end,” she added, stating the council were likely to fall foul of public recrimination if any further incidents were to arise in the future.

Other elected representatives were even more outspoken however. Cllr Paul Connell appeared to lose his composure when asking whether the council had any responsibility in the handling of the estate.

Director of Services, Jack Kilgallon said the onus was with the owner, but with no sign of remedial works being carried out, the council had no option but to step in.

“We have carried out a lot of work ourselves in the absence of the owner notwithstanding that it is still their responsibility. We have entered the sewers, got in contractors and we have got in a specialist contractor to monitor the gases out there,” he said.

Not satisfied, a disgruntled Cllr Connell accused the council of “passing the buck” at a time when the midlands has come under renewed publicity owing to its ghost estates record.

“I would like it (council response ) minuted,” he said frankly. “For sewage to blow up and blow the door of a house (out), under proper planning that shouldn’t have happened.”

County Manager Tim Caffrey refuted those claims as he reassured elected members the council would not be left out of pocket by the incident.

“It’s (explosion) down to bad construction,” he replied. “It is a private estate and as the director has already said, as a local authority, we have a duty of care to the residents.

“We will recoup whatever costs are incurred there by the owner of that private estate.”

Full report next week on Gleann Riada.