Thursday 17 January 2008

Nuns' €40m housing bid sparks unholy traffic row

A housing scheme worth €40m planned by an order of nuns for an exclusive site has aroused bitter opposition.

The planning application has been lodged by the Sisters of Mercy for a 12-acre site next to St Anne's Children's Centre in Galway and alongside some of the most expensive homes in the West.

But the scheme is being bitterly opposed by local residents who are predicting that it would cause traffic chaos in the already-congested area.

The nuns are seeking permission for a total of 126 detached and semi-detached homes, and a five storey apartment block on the site. Access would be from Rosary Lane, currently the scene of daily traffic jams arising from children being dropped off and collected at two local schools.

The plan has also sparked anger among historians because the site contains the remains of the historic 19th Lenaboy Castle. It was to Lenaboy Castle that local curate Fr Michael Griffin was taken in 1920 on the night he was murdered, allegedly by the Black and Tans.

Residents of Taylor's Hill and Devon Park are campaigning to have the application rejected and will meet city planners to outline their concerns tomorrow. Two public meetings to co-ordinate the opposition have already been held.

A number of city councillors are backing the residents in their bid to have the plan turned down and are urging the City Council to consider purchasing the valuable site for a public amenity park.

Cllr Catherine Connolly described the plan as "utterly out of keeping with the area" and insisted it was not sustainable.

"It is extraordinary that the Sisters of Mercy should be in the business of development in this manner", she said.

"I believe it is a golden opportunity for the Sisters of Mercy to give back to the city and also a special way of cherishing and remembering and paying tribute to those children who we failed as a society and who were obliged to live in what was then known as Lenaboy Industrial School -- in extremely sad and distressing conditions", added Cllr Connolly.

Irish Independent

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