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Council facing legal bill of over €250k for Lough Funshinagh works

Mar 28, 2022 15:53 By Shannonside News
Council facing legal bill of over €250k for Lough Funshinagh works
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Roscommon County Council is facing a legal bill of over a quarter of a million euro resulting from its legal battle with an environmental group.

Chief Executive Eugene Cummins this afternoon slammed the Friends of the Irish Environment for scuppering plans for a pipe to drain water away from Lough Funshinagh.

Last week the High Court heard that the local authority agreed that it would stop all works in Rahara aimed at reducing the level of water in the infamous turlough.

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The decision came on foot of a long-running legal row led by the Friends of the Irish Environment, who had opposed all attempts by the Council to carry out works at the flooded lake.

Friends of the Irish Environment brought judicial review proceedings aimed at setting aside the council's decision of October 14th 2021, against both the council and the state.

The action was brought on grounds including that the proposed project broke EU environmental laws.

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As part of its action, FIE also secured an injunction preventing the council from carrying out any further works on the scheme until the dispute had been determined.

Earlier this month the court was told that the parties had resolved matters, and that the proceedings could be struck out, and the May hearing date was vacated.

Today CE Eugene Cummins spoke publicly for the first time since the proceedings concluded, expressing his hurt and anger that the plan to save homes and farmland in the area had been thwarted.

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Addressing the March meeting of Roscommon County Council for over 20 minutes, he claimed over 10 appearances in the High Court had generated costs of over a quarter of a million euro.

He said he did everything humanly and legally possible and was absolutely satisfied 'without any doubt in his mind,' that every action was done legally

He also hit out at the legal system, - claiming that the FIE had successfully convinced the court that "water effectively flows up hill' - but did acknowledge the FIE were legally correct and they convinced the court there was a conforming issue at the lake.

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He linked the determination of the people in Ukraine to remain in their homes to residents in the Rahara area to hold onto their homes, and queried why anyone would question the Council using emergency powers in this situation.

He claimed the FIE had generated huge costs, eliminated hope for people at Lough Funshinagh and left the Council in an "impossible" situation.

He warned that there is only a very slim possibility that an application to An Bord Pleanala to seek planning for the pipeline, including a variety of screening reports, would be successful due to designations linked to the special area of conservation.

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He outlined that works will begin after Easter to remediate the works already undertaken and that there was now only one option open to the Council which may involve proving a home for people, but that home may not be at Lough Funshinagh.

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