News Irish News

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Work has still to start on ghost estate where Liam (2) drowned

Liam Keogh who
died earlier this year at the
Glenatore estate in Rindoon
Park, Athlone, Co
Westmeath
Liam Keogh who died earlier this year at the Glenatore estate in Rindoon Park, Athlone, Co Westmeath
The Glenatore estate in Rindoon Park, Athlone, Co Westmeath
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

WORK has yet to begin on completing the ghost estate in which a little boy died -- despite more than 200 other similar developments being finished.

The Irish Independent has learned that detailed plans setting out how the Glenatore development, near Athlone, Co Westmeath, will be completed have still not been sent to the local council, despite being requested almost eight months ago.

Liam Keogh (2), who lived on the adjoining Rindoon housing development, died after drowning in a pool of water on the unfinished estate on February 23 last.

He is understood to have followed the family dog from his home, through a fence into a section of the Glenatore development where he lost his life.

The little boy's death focused attention on the country's vast number of ghost estates, many of which have fallen into a dangerous state of repair.

An investigation into Liam's death has not yet been completed by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). It has said that work on this is ongoing.

Yesterday, a report from the Department of the Environment said that of 2,066 unfinished developments across the country, 211 had now been completed.

It added that site-resolution plans, setting out how the estates would be made safe and completed, had been received for another 523 developments and that work on these was now under way.

However, Westmeath County Council last night confirmed that no plan had been received for Glenatore -- despite the fact that this was requested on November 28 last.

The council could not confirm that all required safety works had been carried out.

"We're engaging with the developer," a spokesman said.

"We haven't received a completed site-resolution plan but they are working on it. That has to be considered by the council in relation to adequacy."

He added: "Safety works have been carried out, but I cannot say all have been carried out. We're looking for a complete site resolution."

Safety

The development was built by Athway Construction, of which a director is local businessman Tony Diskin. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Liam Keogh's uncle, PJ Keogh, declined to comment, saying it was a "personal matter".

Planning permission was sought earlier this year to complete the development, but Westmeath County Council has sought additional information because it is "concerned" that no works will happen on the site "as it appears that works have been abandoned".

It sought additional information, including a detailed schedule of proposed works. A decision on the application has not yet been made.

A spokesman for Athway said the information would be lodged "shortly", including details on how the development would be completed.

The lack of progress on the development raises serious questions about the powers that local authorities have to intervene in unsafe ghost estates.

One local authority source said councils didn't have powers to enter the sites because these were private property.

"We don't have the clout we would like," he said. "We would have to get an order from the court in order to enter the site.

"We have to have a very strong case, such as if there was a building which posed a danger to the public."

The report also reveals that:

• NAMA is funding remedial works in 29 developments under its control and is examining another 137 sites.

• The State has spent €3.2m on improving 128 developments.

• The HSA is involved in 20 sites to ensure that developers are complying with safety legislation.

• Some 770 site-resolution plans have been requested by local authorities and work has begun on 523 of these estates.

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan said that safety works across most ghost estates had been completed -- but she warned that some would be demolished.

She added that local authorities were taking legal action against the owners of more than 600 estates, some of which are owned by the banks.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News