Residents vow to continue six year campaign to make Oranhill safer
Children protest at the site in Oranhill after workers fence off the unfinished development site at the estate. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy
By Martina Nee
Fed up with their pleas falling on deaf ears, the residents of Oranhill gathered for a protest on Monday at the site of what has been dubbed ‘The Hole’ to highlight the uselessness of spending €70,000 to simply fence of the dangerous crater instead of filling it in and restoring the footpath to make the area safer.
For the community of Oranhill ‘The Hole’ is not just an ugly everyday reminder of the economic collapse but poses a real and constant danger to the safety of the public, particularly to children who can easily gain access to it. A footpath which used to run alongside ‘The Hole’ was also removed by the developer and never replaced and now poses difficulties for those with mobility issues and parents with prams or buggies.
‘The Hole’, which one Oireachtas member claimed was big enough to fit Leinster House into, had been excavated by a developer for the construction of a number of proposed community services, including a local shop, creche, and medical centre. However, works stopped in 2007, but the hole was never refilled. According to residents the footpath was never restored leaving residents without safe access on one side of the road and an unsafe crossing on a busy blind bend.
The residents have been campaigning ever since with local TDs, senators, and councillors all vowing to do what they can, but little progress has been made. Residents committee chairperson Jill Holtz told the Advertiser that despite numerous requests being made, including contact with Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan, it has only recently come to light that there are plans to erect a new fence which “does not address the issue of safety”. She added that it did not make sense to spend €70,000 on a fence and not fill in the dangerous hole or build a new footpath.
The residents have been in touch with the Health and Safety Authority and the Galway County Council - neither of which say they have jurisdiction over the site.
The Department of the Environment, Community, and Local Government confirmed “NAMA had put finance in place to enable remediation work” but the contractor on site has now said the only work to be done was to remove some rubble and erect a fence.
Ms Holtz explained: “We have been in touch several times with NAMA but they refuse to discuss the site with us citing data protection of the developer. We just discovered to our horror the company carrying out the works intends to just leave us living beside this crater, with a new fence that’s even easier for children to climb up. Yet again we can’t get the footpath back and yet again we are left without recourse.”
‘The Hole’ has attracted considerable attention nationally thanks to a YouTube video made by three young girls living in Oranhill. The video, which has had nearly 20,000 views so far, can been seen on