A crater that opened up on the site of an old mine in Co Monaghan was detected 10 days before a decision was taken to close the adjacent road on safety grounds.
A report into the 9m wide, 7m deep “crown hole” beside the LP4900 road that serves Drumgossatt village reveals it was identified by a drone survey carried out for the Gyproc mine company on December 10 last year.
However, Monaghan County Council was only notified on December 19. It closed the road the next day and residents of Drumgossatt and the neighbouring townlands of Magheracloone and Knocknacran have been pleading since then for it to be made safe and reopened.
Residents also say they have not had a proper explanation as to why the road, which also has old mine works beneath it and has suffered visible subsidence, remained open for 10 days after the drone survey.
Gyproc said it received the survey results on December 19, five days before the next survey was due.
It said: “Many factors can result in variations between the timing of carrying out the surveys and the reporting of the surveys.
“Gyproc at all times acts with utmost haste and on this occasion received the report of the independent survey on December 19.
"The report indicated a change in ground levels on an area of Gyproc land.
"Gyproc immediately carried out a physical site inspection of the area and on confirmation of the existence of a crown hole immediately notified the relevant authorities.”
The issue is one of numerous concerns stemming from a dramatic subsidence incident last September, when another part of the old mine collapsed, destroying Magheracloone Mitchells GAA grounds, the clubhouse and community centre.
The LP4900 was closed for five weeks following that incident, but was reopened, only to be shut again due to the crown hole.
Residents say the fact it was closed previously meant drone survey footage monitoring conditions in the area should have been examined immediately.
Residents will raise the issues tonight at one of a series of forums with representatives of Gyproc, the council, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“There are still three families out of their homes since last September, our road is closed for the last six months, we’ve no community centre, the GAA is having to move and we still have a lot of questions unanswered,” said spokeswoman Geraldine Ward.
A fresh concern is that Gyproc, who operate two gypsum mines in the locality, one underground and one open cast, are preparing to lodge a planning application for another open-cast mine that would take in the site of the September subsidence.
“We don’t believe any application should be considered until all the other matters are cleared up, but that will take an independent inquiry,” said Ms Ward, but Minister of State Sean Canney, who has responsibility for mines, has repeatedly refused requests for an inquiry.