Continuing Saga of Roche Family Home

Noel and Marie Roche pictured with local Councillors Seamus Browne, Liam Galvin, Michael Collins and Francis Foley.
Photo By Paul Ward

A public meeting took place on Tuesday night, January 16th at the Glórach Theatre, Abbeyfeale, regarding the continuing plight of the Roche family. The inclement weather on the night and bad road conditions was not reflected by the large crowd in attendance. The meeting was chaired by Seamus Collins, and top table attendees were Councillors Foley, Galvin, and Browne, Collins and Sheehan, and deputy Tom Neville. The Chairman outlined the plight of the Roches and his expectations of the meeting. He thanked everyone for their attendance, and their continuing support. Eamon then spoke and thanked everyone for their attendance. He spoke of his and Marie’s distress as the problem remains unsettled, and of the dilemma they find themselves in through no fault of their own. He explained what had happened to date, and all of the representations that he, and others had made. He thanked everyone for their contributions, and stated that his hope would be for a speedy resolution as time was not on their side. Seamus Collins then invited guest speakers to address the meeting. Councillor Michael Collins, Chairman of Newcastle West Municipal District was the first speaker. He outlined the details of the issue to date, and read from all the relevant correspondence from official departments. He explained that the Office of Public Works clearly stated that in its view, it held no responsibility for the state of the river bank erosion, or indeed the home of the Roche family. It claims that all works carried out to maintain the passage of water is the responsibility of the riparian land owner. However, it was pointed out at the meeting that any such work would, in fact, potentially be of interest to the Board of Fisheries, and environmental agencies, as the legalities of the work could be in question. He also stated that the Council were willing to carry out works to safeguard the home, but would have to get state funds. He explained that the Council acted as an agent for the OPW in such cases, and worked hand in hand with it in an ongoing capacity. He went on to say that the only offer currently available to the Roches from the council was that of social housing. This was unacceptable to the meeting.
Councillor Galvin spoke of his involvement with the case, and reiterated what Collins had previously stated. He also went on to explain that, in the course of the discussion of the Roche family home, it has become apparent that other homes along the bank of the River Feale may also be in danger of damage from river erosion. Councillor Foley agreed with his colleagues, as indeed did Councillors Browne and Sheehan. Councillor Browne again stated that funding for the repair of the home, or the relocation of the Roche family would need to be found at national level. Councillor Sheehan again said that a solution to the problem was needed urgently. Deputy Neville, and all the councillors pledged their support to the Roches.
Speakers from the audience surprised many when the issue of erosion along the bank of the Feale in other parts of the town was discussed. It was said that from the Town Park, to the Mart Bridge, approximately a mile of the river, defence walls and properties may be at risk. Concerns were raised when others spoke of the changes that had taken place in the flow of the river in the past few years.
A suggestion from the audience that a delegation of people should travel to Dáil Eireann was well received, as was the suggestion that a meeting of all parties involved should take place. Final agreement was that the delegation would arrange to meet Minister O’Donovan and Council officials in Newcastle West in a push to solve the problem, as a matter of urgency. This was the final decision of the meeting. Councillors, and others from the audience agreed to facilitate the meeting.
It was also evident that events are taking their toll on the Roche family. Eamon, had earlier that day had an appointment with his cardiologist, and both he and Marie are under doctor’s supervision currently.