No promises on future use of former County Limerick bank

The former Bank of Ireland building in Askeaton.

THE former Bank of Ireland building in Askeaton, which was recently purchased by Limerick City and County Council, is to be used to facilitate 22 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war in their homeland.

This week, Fine Gael councillor Stephen Keary tabled a motion at the monthly meeting of the local authority expressing satisfaction that the  building will be refurbished and used as temporary residential accommodation for two years.

As part of his motion, he called for a feasibility study to establish the building’s future use as a community facility and the preparation of a planning application to be started immediately.

He said he wants to see the project shovel-ready for inclusion for grant application under Town and Village Renewal Programmes and other sources of funding.

“The people of Askeaton are anxious to see the building given over for community use. There’s a need for an upgraded library. The one they have is not fit for purpose,” he told the council executive.

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Cllr Adam Teskey (FG) added he was “very disappointed” that the former bank site was being considered for temporary accommodation for Ukrainians as he felt there was a more suitable site elsewhere in the West Limerick town for housing.

“This is an iconic building in the town of Askeaton. It was an economic hub and I can’t turn my back on the people in the local community,” he said.

Askeaton native Cllr Kevin Sheahan (FF) was also far from impressed, suggesting that there must be a local election on the horizon.

“The library in Askeaton is a shambles and needs to be upgraded. The Council promised to look at it two years ago but we haven’t heard back. I asked on behalf of the library and I never got a response,” he said.

Cllr Sheahan went on to warn councillors to be very careful of making promises to community groups as it could cause division locally.

He also took the view that it was vitally important that a new library is delivered for Askeaton.

“The library must be transferred to the bank in Askeaton,” he said, before going on to welcome Ukrainian refugees to their new short-term home at the former bank premises.

Chief Officer of the Limerick Community Development Committee Seamus O’Connor said the Council will progress with the procurement of consultants to undertake a feasibility study for the Askeaton bank building as soon as possible.