A digger at work in the estate.

Residents High Court challenge to social housing project in Nenagh

Local residents were this week awaiting a High Court date for their challenge to Tipperary Co Council's construction of 12 houses in Nenagh's Cormack Drive estate.

Site works began in the estate last Monday week much to the anger of residents of Cormack Drive and St Conlon's Road, who are opposed to the addition of further houses in the area. But Andrew Fahy of St Conlon's Road this week maintained that “the fight is not over” and said residents would seek to have the works stopped in the High Court, in what Cathaoirleach of Nenagh Municipal District Cllr Séamie Morris described as a “classic David versus Goliath case”.

Cormack Drive Residents Association Chairman Michael Ryan said people in the estate believe the council wants to have construction of the houses underway before any judicial decision is reached. But he warned that this could lead to even greater costs on the council.

“We know that we could lose this case but they don't seem willing to accept that they could lose,” he commented. “If we lose, fine, we lose a few quid. But what happens if the shoe is on the other foot and the judge in the High Court decides that they're wrong? Look at all the money that's wasted now.

“They think we don't have the fortitude to take them on. But we have. We're sick and tired of being treated like second class citizens. If we win and there's a question over whether those houses should come down, we will insist on it and down they'll come.”



Voicing his support of the residents' position, Cllr Morris this week also raised concerns over the costs that could arise from the Cormack Drive situation. He said the works in the estate should cease pending the outcome of the legal challenge.

“This is a classic David versus Goliath case,” Cllr Morris said. “The council has come in and tried to walk all over the rights of the residents of Cormack Drive and St Conlon's Road. That doesn't surprise me. But using taxpayers’ money to fight a case against the residents is irresponsible behaviour.”



Cllr Morris said it concerned him that an old agreement made between Nenagh Urban District Council and local residents’ representatives had not been acknowledged by Tipperary Co Council. Residents claim an agreement was made that no further social houses would be added to the 80-house Cormack Drive estate.

“Three former chairman of the Urban District Council and one former member of the executive have spoken about this agreement, and whether it's in writing or not, that should be enough for the executive,” Cllr Morris said.



“It also wrangles me as Chairman of Nenagh Municipal District that Tipperary Co Council has moved four Syrian families into Nenagh against the expressed wishes of the members of the district,” he said in reference to a recent meeting at which local councillors sought a meeting with the Dept of Justice over a plan to accommodate 12 Syrian families in Nenagh. Cllr Morris said over €420,000 has been spent on bringing houses in the town up to standard for the refugees, “while at the same time we're forcing these houses on the people of Cormack Drive”.

The cathaoirleach said people should take note of what is happening in Cormack Drive as similar housing projects are likely elsewhere in the town.

“People in other parts of Nenagh need to support the residents of Cormack Drive because Annbrook, Yewston, Sallygrove, Bulfin Crescent and other estates have been targeted because they have areas where the council could seek to put more houses. If Cormack Drive lose, they all lose,” Cllr Morris said.



In a statement, Mr Fahy said elderly residents in the area are concerned about what is happening in Cormack Drive.

“The council seem to have waited until the old committee members of the Cormack Drive, St Conlon's Road and Gortlandroe residents associations were either deceased or too old to take up the defence of their rights,” he said. “I believe this was a deliberate decision by the senior executives, who observed these factors. Their decision reveals contempt for democratic principles and disrespect for the honoured agreements of their predecessors and the residents committees.

“The constant mistreatment, condescension, manipulation and arrogance of the senior executive to the residents is unconstitutional and flies in the face of our democratic values,” Mr Fahy said.

“However, this fight is not over. The residents committees will engage this unjust council in the High Court. Let's hope that justice is done and their decision is reversed, and that David does defeat Goliath.

“If this happens, it will be a victory for the people of Nenagh and citizens of Ireland over power and arrogance; a yoke which is bearing heavily on communities,” Mr Fahy stated.