*Fr Richie Keane and Cllr PJ Ryan. Photograph: John Mangan
ASSUMPTIONS on the ownership of the road leading to St John’s Church in Cratloe has led to holy confusion.
It has emerged that the Diocese of Limerick and not Clare County Council is responsible for a local road which was at the centre of a debate in local government this week. Council officials have made it clear that responsibility for road improvements on this section lies at the foot of the Church.
An appeal for repairs and resurfacing works on the road leading to St John’s Church in Cratloe from the Wood Rood was issued by Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) at Tuesday’s meeting of the Shannon Municipal District.
Senior executive engineer, Tom Mellett replied, “this road is not a public road and so responsibility for maintenance lies with the registered owner. Ownership lies with the Dioceses, this office is happy to advise on repairs if required”.
So far as this reply was concerned, Cllr Ryan was not entirely a believer. “All the senior engineers over the last twenty years have maintained and repaired this road. I’d also like to point out that there are three residents on this road, the three residents are paying their property tax and are fully entitled to the road. It needs to be looked into, the possibility is that the land is in the ownership of the Diocese. Their interest has to be taken into consideration”.
Seconding the proposal, Cllr Michael Begley (IND) admitted he would be “very interested in what the result of a further investigation on ownership would be”.
Cllr Ryan remarked, “I don’t know if the previous engineers were better Catholics than Tom and if they’d know”.
Shannon based, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) commended the engineer for his research. “The motion has uncovered an anomaly which is the ownership. You can now presume nothing. It needs to be further investigated. I’m sure they have plenty of money. Tom has said he will be happy to help and advise”.
“Why take the property tax off them,” Cllr Ryan replied to which Cllr Flynn quipped, “They should have been giving it to the Diocese”.
Maintenance of the road has “always” been done by the Council, Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) stated. “They cleaned the gullies and picked up leaves. It is a public road but also a car park for weddings and funerals, if something happened who would be responsible, it seems everyone is running for cover”.
Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, Mellett told councillors his written reply was “as nuanced as it could be. The ownership is black and white”.
Taking property tax from people making contributions seemed “very unfair” if improvements to their road would not be made, Cllr Ryan felt. He said he would discuss the matter with acting parish priest, Fr Richie Keane.
Whether the local authority would consider a taking in charge for the road was queried by Cllr Flynn. “We have done it in the past but the road has to be brought to a certain standard,” Mellett advised. “We could count the number of projects we’ve done,” Cllr Ryan responded.