Covid Test Centre to remain at Castle Saunderson
Cavan’s Covid-19 test centre is to remain at Castle Saunderson until at least October.
Originally set up at the Health Centre in Ballinagh, the HSE moved the operation to the Scouting Ireland facility in the forest park in April of last year.
The organisation entered into a nine-month lease, with the option of a three-month extension.
The HSE now says the lease has been further extended to October.
In a statement to The Anglo-Celt, the HSE said at the end of that lease period it “will review in accordance with the national guidance on testing and make a decision with regards to renewal of the lease”.
It says there are no plans to relocate the testing centre.
The decision to move the centre was met with criticism from some in the local community and further across Cavan.
Some local residents raised concerns over public access to the park, which is a popular local amenity and recreation site.
Spokesperson Julie McAvinney at the time told this paper that other sites, including the former army barracks in Cavan Town, should have been used.
Meanwhile, works have been carried out to resurface the road at the main entrance to the forest park.
Cavan County Council said it was “aware of issues” regarding the road surface and the local authority has “already commenced” repair work at the site.
Locals and test centre attendees had complained about the condition of the site entrance, with representations made by local elected officials to the council directly seeking its intervention.
The issues concerning the deterioration of the road entrance were exacerbated in the run up to Christmas and over the festive and New Year holiday periods when the Cavan Covid Testing centre was reportedly operating at “maximum capacity” with up to 450 attendees per day.
The HSE agreed right-of-way access with the national forestry agency Coillte and the local authority prior to opening the testing centre.
The 'Right of Way' does entail certain conditions, including that the HSE must maintain the internal road, manage safety on site through regular inspections, provide traffic management and indemnify Coillte. A one-way system for test traffic is in place, with a short section of roadway, approximately 500 metres from the entrance, open to two way traffic.
Extensive ground works have taken place within the Castle Saunderson site, paid for by the HSE. This included the widening of internal roads, tarmacking, and the mapping of a new specified walkway throughout for pedestrians.
However, the entrance to the site itself falls under the remit of Cavan County Council.