Cork County Council is taking legal action to recoup an insurance policy to fix what has been dubbed “the worst ghost estate in Ireland”.
Tim Lucey, the council’s chief executive officer, confirmed that the local authority had initiated legal proceedings because of appalling conditions at Lios na Gréine estate in the North Cork village of Lismire.
He signalled the move after Cllr Bernard Moynihan (FF) handed him a petition from “every man, woman, and child living in the village” highlighting dangerous conditions at the unfinished estate.
Local resident Joe O’Donovan beside one of the open sewers at Lois Na Greine.
“Everything that could have gone wrong there has gone wrong. There’s no public lighting, proper roads, and footpaths in parts of it, and raw sewage is flowing around the place,” Mr Moynihan said. “It’s my understanding from (council) engineers that some of the estate will have to be levelled.”
Tim Collins, the deputy mayor of Co Cork, said: “It’s the worst estate in the country and I’m sure I’m safe in saying that.”
Pointing to another example of an unfinished estate in nearby Boherbue, he said the problem is that the council is finding it hard to draw down bonds (insurance policies lodged by builders) which were in the hands of financial institutions. “These bonds are not being paid out. The money doesn’t belong to the financial institutions,” Mr Collins added.
Cllr Melissa Mullane (SF) said the council needs to do more to leave financial institutions under no illusion that they would go after such bonds.
Cllr John Paul O’Shea (Ind) said it was “a very sad sight to see in such a beautiful little village” and the estate residents were “living in atrocious conditions”.
“It’s very dangerous there, unbelievable, and there’s an onus on us to do something about it,” Cllr Dan Joe Fitzgerald (FF) said.
“We are actively in the process of taking legal proceedings in this case to secure the bond and the completion of this estate. There is no doubt it’s bad there,” Mr Lucey told councillors.
Mr Moynihan said he was glad to hear that, adding that the council should also take a tough line at The Beaches estate in Boherbue.
The chairman of Lismire Community Council, Joe Ahern, said he welcomed news that Mr Lucey was taking the legal route.
“The estate is in a very, very bad condition. It was built around 11 years ago. Only eight of the houses were finished, one was nearly finished, and five weren’t finished at all,” Mr Ahern said.
“The sewerage plant built to serve them is destroyed and there are holes dotted around the estate, some of which are up to 8ft deep.”
Meanwhile, Cork County Council is also drawing up a list of vacant houses in ghost estates throughout the county.
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