A Co Clare parish priest has promised a female Council planner that if she grants planning permission for a new Church car park it will bring her many blessings.
Parish priest of Lisdoonvarna, Kilshanny, Toovahera and Doolin, Fr Robert McNamara has made the promise to the planner in an email where he stated that he is ‘perplexed’ why Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) would be objecting to his plans for a new car-park to serve “a little architectural gem’ of a Church in the Burren, Co Clare.
Fr McNamara has lodged plans with Clare County Council for the car-park to serve an historic 1878 church, Toovahera at Kilmoone West, Lisdoonvarna.
The car-park scheme is aimed at eliminating the on-road parking during mass times at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes which has become ‘in demand’ for smaller weddings.
However, in a submission, TII has told the council that the proposal is at variance with national policy in relation to control of frontage development on or affecting national roads.
TII contend that the planned car park by itself, or by the precedent which a grant of permission for it would set, would adversely affect the operation and safety of the national road network.
TII further states that the proposal, if approved, would create an adverse impact on the national road.
Now, in response, Fr McNamara has told the council that he along with the Parish Council and Parish Finance Committee is ‘perplexed’ by the objection of TII on the basis of health and safety.
In his email, Fr McNamara said: “This seems so ironic as we are trying to enhance health and safety."
Fr McNamara addresses a council planner in an email and tells her “I really hope that you do the sensible and decent thing and please uphold our application. I can promise you that to do so will bring you many blessings”.
Earlier in the email, Fr McNamara stated that the aim in providing the car-park “is to create a safe environment on a busy road by taking cars off the road during mass times and avoiding the necessity for dangerous situations and indeed, fatalities”.
Fr McNamara adds that this safety issue has been thrown into even sharper relief by what he describes as the recent sad death of parishioner, Gerry O’Connor whose motorbike, he said, collided with a car driven by a French tourist with tragic results.
Fr McNamara stated that the Church serves a vibrant community "who meet for holy mass every Saturday evening, as well as for occasional weddings, funerals and christenings”.
Now, in response to TII concerns, the Council has placed the application on hold pending Fr McNamara submitting a road safety audit.
The council has also requested Fr McNamara to carry out an archaeological impact assessment as the proposed site is located in an area that has a particularly high density of recorded monuments.
Asked to comment, Fr McNamara said: “We are trying to enhance road safety.”
Fr McNamara said that he remains confident that planning permission will be granted.
He said: “Because it is a good endeavour at aiming to improve road safety, I trust in the Lord that everything will turn out okay.”
Fr McNamara also praised the generosity of local couple, Patrick and Frances O’Donohue at donating the site for the car-park.