A former Lord Mayor has hit out at the Diocese of Cork and Ross for selling land to developers who want to build a student high-rise at The Lough, dubbing the move “a betrayal”.
Toddy O’Sullivan, a former Labour TD and junior minister, who was also Lord Mayor of Cork in 1980, argued that the land in question, which is located beside the Church of the Immaculate Conception, was essentially paid for by local parishioners by their donations down through the years and should not have been sold without consulting them.
“I’ve never seen the likes of this before. For the people of this parish, this is a betrayal by the clergy, plain and simple,” he said.
Mr O’Sullivan’s comments were echoed by local residents at the weekend – almost 200 parishioners took part in a demonstration at the church on Saturday, holding placards and wearing t-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Save The Lough from High Rise’.
Protestors said they were against the Bandon Road development, which has been proposed by developers Lyonshall, largely because it would see in influx of 350 students into a largely mature residential area.
They say the area is not appropriate for such a development and worry about families being pushed out of their homes by a rise in anti-social behaviour should the three- and four-storey building be granted planning permission.
Responding to the controversy, Rev Tom Deenihan, Secretary of the Diocese of Cork and Ross, said the decision to sell the land was taken after the local Parish Finance Council discussed the issue “in light of the needs of the Lough parish, some pending necessary repairs, a declining population, and falling income”.
He said the sale of the land was approved by the Parish Finance Assembly which instructed the Cork Diocesan Trust to sell the site on its behalf, and that the proceeds “will benefit the parish”.
“This piece of land is adjoining another and larger piece of land already in the ownership of this third party [Lyonshall]. I gather that the piece of land that the parish is selling is just one fifth of the actual proposed development site, the remaining area having been already procured by the developer,” said Rev Deenihan.
“I am sure that some local residents may wish to object to Cork City Council granting planning permission. That is entirely reasonable and Cork City Council must make a decision in this regard. The Parish is not making any such application. Matters relating to planning permission are for the local authority and, if needs be, An Bord Pleanála. I would hope that the local residents are engaging with the developer and their local representatives in this regard.” The deadline for members of the public to make submissions on the development is tomorrow, Tuesday May 16.