GAA club objects to plans for children’s respite care centre

Plans to build a respite care centre for sick children near Tralee, to honour the memory of two Kerry children who died of an incurable degenerative condition, have been put on hold following objections from a GAA club.

St Patrick’s GAA Club in Blennerville is one of two parties appealing against a decision by Kerry County Council to grant permission for the proposed Liam’s Lodge, due to be located at Curragraigue, Blennerville.

The local authority gave the green light last month to the Saoirse Foundation to proceed with the project.

The charity was established by Tony and Mary Heffernan, from Castlemaine, Co Kerry, whose two children, Saoirse and Liam, died from Batten’s disease in 2011 and 2014, respectively, both aged five.

St Patrick’s, whose grounds are adjacent to the planned respite centre, has lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála claiming it is concerned the development could impact negatively on its pitch and dressing rooms, which are already prone to flooding.

Although the club said it was supportive of the development of a respite centre in principle, it expressed major concern over the lack of information provided by the Saoirse Foundation about the centre’s surface water drainage system.

St Patrick’s said the current case is the third application by the charity for permission to build the respite centre but it had failed on each occasion to provide the council with answers on how it will deal with surface water drainage issues.

The planned centre, to be located on a 13-hectare site just off the N86 Tralee-Dingle road, is designed for a 22-unit facility providing respite care for children with rare and genetic disorders.

The charity previously made an application for a similar respite centre on an adjoining site in 2014. It was declared invalid after the Saoirse Foundation failed to provide additional information sought by Kerry County Council within a six-month deadline.

The GAA club pointed out the site had previously been deemed unsuitable and unsustainable by An Bord Pleanála in 2005 when it refused permission for a 52-house development at the location.

“There has been no change to the surrounding roads, utilities, or infrastructure since,” said a St Patrick’s spokesperson.

The club said the Saoirse Foundation had provided no evidence that the HSE was supporting the centre or that it would be used for medical research and training.

An Bord Pleanála is due to issue its ruling by August 3.

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