The public meeting in Askeaton Community Hall last night, Thursday 9th February, was exceptionally well attended by a large cross-section of the wider County Limerick community. Pool users of all ages were represented. All of whom had clear, valid, and logical reasons and arguments why the pool should and must remain open. Local businesses were also in attendance and made it known that the pool closure would negatively impact their business. The issue of access to the camper van facilities on site was also raised. This facility is extensively used throughout the year, with multiple pitches in place and each contributing to the local economy significantly.
There was robust engagement by community members and community council representatives in attendance; none of whom can understand the lack of willingness by the council (or APL DAC) to run the works in parallel to the continued operation of the pool and centre. Queries were raised around the consultancy firm being used, and if they would engage with locals with expert and extensive knowledge of the River Deel, tides, and flooding conditions to avoid the original mistakes being repeated – the existing location of the plant room was locally known to be at high risk of flooding.
All the Adare/Rathkeale Municipal District councillors attended the meeting, as well as some from nearby districts. Councillor Adam Teskey committed to ask Mayor Frances Foley to hold a special meeting about the pool and to amend Standing Orders, so that the members of Askeaton Swimming Club and people from the community can attend.
Councillors also said that they would ask the council to carry out a study to gather further information on closing the pool. The board of APL DAC committed to review the legal and financial implications of keeping the centre open and update both shareholders on these implications within the next two weeks.
Questions were asked as to why this closure should happen when there is no scope of work yet drawn up and the contractor selection process has not commenced. Many people in attendance with experience of the medical, large plant, and construction industries highlighted that the proposed closure made no sense as they all had extensive experience of upgrade works happening while operations continued.
As can be expected, at times the meeting became animated with many attendees voicing their opinions, all, it must be stated, in objection to the planned closure and questioning the reason why the pool has to close at all. Everyone who spoke was heard and all issues and concerns raised were valid. The strong feeling around the closure was obvious with people highlighting the detriment to lives, with regard to mental health, physical health, concerns that the closure would extend into multiple years rather than months, as well as distrust that the closure pool would ever reopen.
The overwhelming consensus was that the pool closure is unacceptable and Limerick City and County Council must find an alternative solution. It was stated by more than one contributor that it is the councillors’ responsibilities to ensure these opinions are heard and heeded, not ignored.