THERE was anger outside County Hall in last week where the Ratheniska, Timahoe, Spink substation action group gathered to protest at the development, and Laois County Coucil’s stance on the project.
Up to 40 residents from the area gathered to vent their frustration at a perceived lack of communication from County Manager Peter Carey, who they say has refused to meet them to discuss the Eirgrid proposal.
The group say they have asked for meetings on numerous occasions but say that all they have received from the County Manager is a letter refusing to meet them. They were supported on the day by Councillors Catherine Fitzgerald, James Daly and Padraig Fleming who have put a notice of motion forward for the next council meeting calling on Mr Carey to meet with the group.
“All we want is a meeting, we have had only one meeting with the county manager in 2009, I can’t understand why he can’t meet us”, said chairman of the group, John Lowry.
“We’re paying car tax and water rates and householders have paid their household tax, and we are entitled to a meeting with the county manager. Eirgrid don’t pay anything to the council and they have access to him on an ongoing basis. People here are very concerned.”
He was supported by Colm Fingleton who said that the group wants answers and are sick of constantly asking questions. He said that the group have asked for meetings with the county manager both through councillors, and directly through his office.
“Why is this substation so big? As county manager it should be part of his job to ask these questions. We’re not going to allow this project to go ahead,” he said.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald told the Leinster Express that residents are worried.
“The county manager said it is out of the hands of the county council now, and the people want to ask him to clarify what he said in his letter back to them. People are very upset and that is why we have put in a notice of motion to ask the county manager to meet the group,” she said.
Ratheniska resident, Enda Fingleton also voiced his concerns.
“The county manager is either working for the people of Laois or for Eirgrid, and it doesn’t seem to be the people. It makes no sense, we don’t know how many times he’s met Eirgrid. People don’t realise what’s coming down the line with the size of this project. Eirgrid are a law onto themselves, no one is regulating them,”, he stated.
Eirgrid has yet to apply to An Bord Pleanala for permission to build the substation but County Hall has cleared the way for it to go ahead by allowing pylons for high powered cables to be erected in Laois.