Residents in two of Portlaoise’s oldest estates have slammed town council proposals to spend capital funding on statues, as the money is badly needed to increase facilities for local children.
The chairperson of the residents association in O’Moore Place has warned that a young child is going to be knocked down, due to the lack of green area in the estate.
The residents are appealing for funding to build a playground, but their application was rejected by the town council who proposed ringfencing the money for such projects as the erection of a statue of Irish rebel Rory O’Moore.
“Children as young as one are playing in the street,” the chairperson said. “Which would we rather have: a few statues around the town, or our children safe?
“All the other estates in town have a green area,” continued the chairperson. “O’Moore Place is the oldest residential estate in Portlaoise, and yet we’re the last to get anything... there are too many chiefs in the council and not enough Indians.”
Meanwhile, in St Brigid’s Place, residents association treasurer, Ms Tricia McEvoy also lambasted the town council, saying it was “an absolute scandal” to spend much-needed funds on statues of historical figures few people would even recognise.
Ms McEvoy revealed that the residents association are looking for €30,000 to extend the local community centre, which is located in a house in the estate. The committee would like to move an interior wall to create two rooms of roughly equal size, to cater for the 40 children attending the after-school facility.
“€30,000 would make a big difference to the children and it would be beneficial to the whole community,” said Ms McEvoy. “To waste money (on statues) is ridiculous, we should help the children out.”
Ms McEvoy said that the funds are public money and should be spent on public use. She said it was “beyond stupid” to spend the money on statues.
Cllr Caroline Dwane has made submissions on behalf of both groups, but said she received no support from her fellow Portlaoise councillors.
She revealed that the committee of the Arus Eoghan childcare facility at O’Moore Place secured funding under Laois Partnership and have since moved into their premises.
She said she sought funding on the extension to St Brigid’s Place Community Centre, but this was also vetoed by the town council.