09 Dec 2021

Year in Review November: Laois school structures in focus and huge donation to charity

Year in Review 2018 Laois Laois Laois

In November three schools in Laois were caught up in the Western Building Systems controversy that stemmed from defects in the structures.

Work was carried out at Gaelscoil Phortlaoise, Educate Together NS Portlaoise and Presentation Primary School Portarlington to ensure they would open after the mid-term break.

Stradbally resident Elizabeth O'Kelly's bequeathment of a staggering €30 million to five charities was one of the greatest gifts ever meted out in this country.

The €6 million donation to the Irish Cancer Society alone was the largest donation ever received by the organisation.

Almost two years after her death Ms Kelly's extraordinary act of charity and the life behind it caught the public imagination.

Her generosity came about as a result of her ownership of a 22 per cent stake of the Leinster Leader newspaper group, of which the Leinster Expres was a member.

In 2005, the group was sold for €138.5 million, and she pocketed up to a quarter share of this, after paying tax.

A €128 million capital budget plan listed the projects Laois County Council prioritised for the next three years.

The Indicative Capital Programme 2019 - 2021 outlined that €128 million would be splashed on projects, including €50 million on housing.

Some €40 million was set to be spent on building houses while €8 million was allocated to taking over existing houses with almost €2 million for energy efficiency and improvement to existing houses.

One-fifth of the total spend would be in Portlaoise, with urban regeneration projects totalling €26 million.

Meanwhile, Laois County Council agreed the sale of land in Portlaoise that had the potential to create more than 50 jobs.

Another nearby project that promised 140 other jobs by next summer was put on ice though.

County councillors gave the green light to sell 4.5 hectares of land near the Togher M7 roundabout to Robinson Distribution Limited for €670,000.

Councillors were told that the company, which is based in Garryhinch, intends to open a facility that could create up to 55 jobs.
Hardworking volunteers and groups from across Laois were rewarded for their trojan work at the Laois Community and Voluntary Awards night in Portlaoise.

The heroes of local communities were celebrated by Laois County Council in association with Laois Public Participation Network when over 280 people gathered in The Midlands Park Hotel, Portlaoise for the 9th edition of the Awards.

The Awards were hosted to recognise the tremendous contribution made by community and voluntary groups to life in Laois.
Carmel O'Connor, of the Laois Branch of the Irish Wheelchair Association was crowned Unsung Hero.

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