Domnick Connolly, James Murray, Senator Eugene Murphy, Cllr John Keogh, Cathoirleach Athlone Municipal District, Minister for Housing, Local Government & Heritage Darraugh O’Brien, Shane Tiernan, CEO Roscommon County Council, Fiona Ni Chuinn, Senior Executive Officer Roscommon County Council and Councillor John Naughten at the official opening of Esker Lawns housing development last Monday. Photo Paul Molloy.

Minister visits Monksland for opening of 27 social houses

The Minister for Housing, Darragh O'Brien, was in Athlone on Monday to officially open a development of 27 new social houses at Esker Lawns in Monksland.

The new houses, which have an 'A' energy efficiency rating, comprise a mixture of two, three and four bedroom homes.

The design and quality of the new Monksland homes was praised by Roscommon County Council's chief executive, Shane Tiernan, who said they "set a very high standard" for future housing developments.

"This development will provide much needed homes for households on the waiting list, ensuring access to secure, good quality housing at an affordable price and in a sustainable manner," said Mr Tiernan.

The Roscommon council official said developments such as Esker Lawns were testament to Monksland's status as one of the fastest growing areas in the county, both economically and culturally.

"Under the Government's national planning framework Athlone has been designated as a regional growth centre," he said.

"We are very collaborative with Westmeath County Council in progressing our joint urban area plan to ensure that Athlone grows sustainably on both sides of the Shannon, not separated by a line, but potentially a new city where we have a district center in Monksland complementing the retail centre of Athlone.

"This vision will mean that Monksland will be a pivotal town in county Roscommon in the future," Mr Tiernan continued.

"This designation will be a catalyst to power the economic expansion, not only of Athlone, but also areas around Monksland such as the neighbouring villages of Curraghboy, Kiltoom, Clonown and Johnstown."

The official opening of the houses at Esker Lawns was also welcomed by Roscommon County Council Cathaoirleach John Keogh who said he was delighted to be in attendance for the event on Monday morning.

"This development represents everything that is good about modern housing. It also represents the vote of confidence in Monksland as one of the fastest growing areas in our county," said the Fianna Fáil councillor

"The support of a highly skilled and well-educated workforce requires the building of infrastructure such as quality roads and related facilities, but, more importantly, quality homes."

Cllr Keogh also thanked the Minister and his department for their support in developing new housing projects in Roscommon. "I hope the new families will enjoy these superb new A-rated homes," he said.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O'Brien cut the ribbon to officially open the new development in Monksland, saying it was an "important day" in Roscommon with 49 new social houses in total being unveiled across the county.

Following his visit to Monksland, the Minister travelled to Roscommon town, where a mix of one, two and four bedroomed units were unveiled at Elm Court, Lisnamult, Roscommon as part of a 12-unit development. In addition, he officially opened ten new houses at Windmill Drive in Elphin.

"We are making real progress across the country," Minister O'Brien said in Monksland. "Last year, we delivered more new-build social homes than we've done in over 50 years - just short of 33,000 homes in total."

Minister O'Brien highlighted the short timeframe seen in the delivery of the Esker Lawns development.

"I believe it was only 16 months from signing of (the construction) contracts here in Monksland that now we've homes delivered, and we've people in those homes. So I want to commend you for the work that you have done and that you will continue to do this year," he said.

Roscommon County Council's Director of Services for Housing, Fiona Ní Chuinn, said the local authority had "a pipeline" of housing developments in store for 2025 and 2026 and that it was also working on projects to deliver for 2027, 2028 and 2029.

"That's how far ahead now we are thinking about delivering for the people of county Roscommon. We have to be (thinking) years ahead to get to this stage of where we are at today," she said.