COUNCILLOR Gerry Flynn has lambasted Clare County Council following news that it has to pay over €87,000 to Shannon Development, after the sale of lands at Illaunmanagh for the development of a crematorium.
Councillor Flynn objected to the decision to sell the lands and says the fact that the council will now not end up with the sale agree price of €140,000 has vindicated him.
In a report issued to councillors representing the Shannon Electoral Area, Michael McNamara acknowledged that the council has no option but to pay the €87,000.
“You will recall that last September the council approved the sale of 1.29 acres of land adjacent to the burial ground in Shannon to Illaunmanagh Ltd for the purposes of their constructing a crematorium on the lands. The sale price agreed was €140,000.
“In the course of the legal transfer of the site, it transpired that this area was part of a larger area purchased eight to nine years ago by the council, principally to provide a burial ground for the town. The purchase price for the entire area of 15.9 acres was £159,300 Irish pounds, or £10,000 Irish pounds per acre.
“This only gave the council fee farm grant interest in the property (essentially a leasehold interest). The purchasers now for the crematorium require the freehold interest in the area they are purchasing and this will require the consent of Shannon Development.
“Shannon Development are willing to transfer the freehold interest on payment to them of the sum of €87,607, which is the difference in value between the freehold interest in the site of 1.28 acres and the price paid by the council in acquiring the fee farm grant interest in 2001/2002.”
Mr McNamara said there is no way of avoiding the charge. “Having taken legal advice on the matter, it appears that the council has no option but to pay the amount in question to Shannon Development, so that the freehold interest in the property can be transferred to the purchasers of the crematorium site.
“Overall the council will not be at a loss as the figure of €140,000 has already been agreed and approved for the sale of this area to Illaunmanagh Ltd.”
Councillor Flynn said that the transaction shows a level of incompetence within the council.
“As usual, it’s a blunder by Clare County Council; it’s one of a number of mistakes that they’ve made. When we were looking at TC2 they said the council has another 10 acres in Shannon, which were actually owned by Shannon Development.”
He said that the council had been given the land cheaply for the provision of a graveyard, not to sell on for commercial gain.
“I remember when Shannon Development gave it to the county council for a knockdown price, it was for the provision of a graveyard for the town. When I said the land wasn’t suitable for a crematorium because of that, I was nearly laughed at, they thought I was talking out of my rear end. Now I’ve been proved right but the damage is done.”
He said that the backers of the crematorium should be required to pay the €87,000 rather than the local authority.
Councillor Flynn said the loss of the money won’t encourage trust in the local authority.
“It’s no wonder that people have no faith in local Government,” he commented.