Wednesday, January 18, 2023

St Flannan’s College Teachers Oppose €25m HSE Community Hospital On School Grounds


Teachers at St Flannan’s College in Ennis are opposing contentious €25m HSE plans for a 100-bed community hospital on Church-owned green space at the college grounds.

In a statement yesterday intervening in the planning row over the planned elderly care unit, staff at St Flannan’s College contend that the proposed development “will have a seriously negative impact on the student population” for a number of reasons.

The HSE lodged plans for the care facility last August with Clare County Council to replace the existing St Joseph’s Hospital in Ennis and the secondary college staff state that the green field development site at St Flannan’s College “is the last remaining site of its kind in Ennis”.

They state that “urban sprawl is taking up so much of our green spaces each year. Once this land is built upon, it will be gone forever”.

They add: “We understand the need for a new community hospital in Ennis. However, we believe that there are several more appropriate sites available for development.”

The statement is accompanied by a photo of over 60 staff standing on the site around a large improvised sign saying ‘Keep It Green’.

The intervention by the college staff puts the college teaching body at loggerheads with the enthusiastic endorsement of the project by Bishop of Killaloe, Fintan Monahan.

The planning application has been made possible by the diocese’s property arm, the Killaloe Diocesan Trust agreeing to sell the lands to the HSE for the care unit development.

After plans were lodged last year, Bishop Monahan said “this wonderful proposed development” by the HSE “will be of great benefit to our community”.

Bishop Monahan said that “the Diocese is very pleased to be able to facilitate the HSE in providing a state of the art facility for the benefit of the communities of Ennis and County Clare in general in a location which is ideal for such a facility”.

In their statement, the St Flannan’s staff state that on any evening during the academic year, there are many teams training on the pitches playing hurling, Gaelic football, camogie, ladies football, soccer, and athletics.

The staff state that the field space being utilised includes “much of the space that is utilised for development under the proposed new facility”.

The staff also point out that the environmental impact of the HSE plan “would be significant”.

They state: “Incredible generational/statement trees that are on the grounds of St Flannan’s College will be removed altogether.”

The statement by St Flannan’s staff follows three months after Clare Co Council put the application on hold stating that it had serious concerns that the proposed development, particularly on lands zoned community, may prejudice the future expansion of the school.

The Council letter demanded that the HSE clearly outline confirmation by school authorities or management that the lands are not required for any potential/future school expansion on the community-zoned lands.

The staff statement followed an ex-principal of the college, Colm McDonagh formally objected to the proposal.

A total of 11 objections have been lodged against the scheme including one by 86-year-old Martha Walzer of Green Park, Clare Rd, Ennis who has told the Council that she “will be a prisoner in my own home” during the construction phase of the scheme.

The application will become ‘live’ once more when the HSE issues a response to the Council’s further information request.