Report finds ‘no irregularities’ into Anne St site acquisition – Wexford People, October 22 2016

Director of Services Tony Larkin presented a report on the Anne Street files to the members, concluding that no irregularities on the part of Wexford Corporation had been found.

Mr Larkin began by outlining the context for the review. In recent times, a number of queries were raised by persons alleging irregularities concerning the acquisition of land in Anne Street for the offices of the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners in the 1990s.

The issue was raised in the Dail by Deputy Joe Higgins. When the matter was brought to Wexford, Cllr Deirdre Wadding called for transparency in the matter and an investigation in the interests of the council. It was agreed that members of the council could inspect the files and bring any concerns to Mr Larkin.

Mr Larkin told the chamber last week that he met with a concerned group on two separate occasions to discuss their worries. The review outlined their complaint:

‘The Group of effected parties say that Wexford Borough Council by the manner in which they went about the assembling of the site for the new government offices in Anne Street, Wexford caused them to be misinformed, caused them to make incorrect commercial business decisions to their financial detriment and made them party to an irregular record of events that impacts on their good name and reputation.’

In following up these complaints, Mr Larkin relied on file records of the Council, held by MJ O’Connor and Co Solicitors and planning and land registry records. All of this information was compiled into the report presented at last week’s meeting.

In the report conclusion, Mr Larkin said that he found the written record on file regarding the land acquisition was ‘quite comprehensive’ and it was possible to develop a full understanding of these complex transactions.’

‘I looked to see if the Corporation had acted outside of its powers. I found no evidence to say it did,’ explained Mr Larkin at the meeting. ‘I was also asked whether anyone was paid compensation as part of the process. Only three parties were and these were the Book Centre in Waterford, George and Marjorie Murphy and the Hylands, who were sold a site on Trinity Street.’

In his report, Mr Larkin said that the only other party involved was Mr Ray Corish, who he found to be nothing but supportive and constructive in the process and who was not compensated in any way.

‘I was also asked if anyone was unfairly denied compensation and whether anyone’s interests were adversely affected. I haven’t managed to find any third party to say that this is true,’ he told the meeting.

Mr Larkin said that he had tried to answer all of the questions raised in the report.

Several of the councillors, including Cllr Malcolm Byrne, Cllr Willie Fitzharris and Cllr Oisin O’Connell, asked for some time to review the report, saying that they had only received it thirty minutes before the meeting.

However, Cllr Deirdre Wadding threw a spanner in the works when she called for the report not to be released, saying that new information had just been brought to her attention that could be useful.

‘In the interest of having a comprehensive report, I suggest we have one more meeting on this,’ she said, adding that she felt they should hand back the reports.

‘How is it that the very day you have new information, it is going to do away with what we have here?’ said Cllr Kavanagh. ‘I suggest you go away and read the report and if anyone has any concerns, they can request a meeting with Tony.’

Mr Larkin said that report was ‘difficult’ to put together, adding that he had been the victim of several personal attacks while compiling it.

‘I am not amending it,’ he said. ‘But I am happy to look at the report that Cllr Wadding has.’

‘There doesn’t appear to be reason for further investigation. The Council has been asked to examine records and it has done so.’

Mr Larkin said that he was happy for the report to be guarded as the final report at this point in time but suggested that, between now and October 28, councillors come to him with any concerns or queries.

‘The additional queries can be included in a revised report,’ he said.

Cllr Deirdre Wadding was quickly shut down by Cllr Paddy Kavanagh when she called for the report not to be released into the public domain.

‘That is it. It is over!’ he said.

(First published in the Wexford People newspaper: print edition. Also available online at: http://www.independent.ie/regionals/goreyguardian/news/report-finds-no-irregularities-into-anne-st-site-acquisition-35137762.html)

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Oliver Walsh is new Enniscorthy Chairperson with Keith Doyle as vice – Enniscorthy Guardian, July 2 2016

Outgoing chairperson Cllr Paddy Kavanagh reflected on a ‘very busy year’ before he handed over his seat to Cllr Oliver Walsh.

Cllr Kavanagh thanked all of the members for their cooperation and help during his time as chairperson. Though he said there were many great events, he said there was one that stood out in his mind – the Monday of the 1916 commemorations.

‘I felt, as an Enniscorthy man, proud to represent you all on the day,’ he said. ‘It is one of the best days we have ever had.’

Cllr Kavanagh also said that a certificate presentation evening to descendants of those involved in the Rising was extremely successful.

‘People enjoyed and appreciated it as we did,’ he said. ‘It didn’t just happen. It was put there by the hard work of a lot of people. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for everything they did for Enniscorthy.’

Cllr Kathleen Codd Nolan proposed that Cllr Oliver Walsh be elected as the new chairperson, saying that he had ‘many years of experience’. Her proposal was seconded by Cllr Keith Doyle and passed without any rejections or further suggestions.

‘I hope to work for the betterment of Enniscorthy town and district,’ he said.

Cllr Willie Kavanagh proposed Cllr Keith Doyle as the Vice Chairman. His proposal was seconded by Cllr Barbara Anne Murphy and supported unanimously.

(First published in the Enniscorthy Guardian newspaper: print edition. Also available online at: http://www.independent.ie/regionals/enniscorthyguardian/news/oliver-walsh-is-new-enniscorthy-chairperson-with-keith-doyle-as-vice-34837682.html)

Cllr George Lawlor calls for movement on IT merger as part of University of the South East Plan – New Ross Standard, June 25 2016

Cllr George Lawlor sought support at last week’s Wexford County Council meeting to continue to push for a South East Technological University Project that includes the merger of Carlow and Waterford ITs.

Cllr Lawlor raised his concern at a section of a Fianna Fail Waterford briefing document that he received from someone he knew. He brought it to the attention of the councillors, saying that he was ‘taken aback’ when he read it. The paragraph suggested that a Waterford IT should seek University status without a merger and said that ‘it is difficult to understand the reasons why there is a need for WIT/ CIT to merge prior to application except as an attempt to rationalise the institutions’.

After reading the section of the document aloud at the meeting, Cllr Lawlor said that the person who provided it believed that the piece was also sent to Wexford and Carlow authorities.

‘I am asking for assurance that this project is ongoing,’ said Cllr Lawlor.

Councillor Michael Sheehan said the merger ‘needs to happen sooner rather than later.’

‘The Government should go further and appoint a president over the project,’ he said. ‘We can’t be in limbo for much longer. We have been 14 years in limbo.’

Councillor Davy Hynes said that it was vital for Wexford to have the university.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Tony Dempsey reassured the councillors, saying that he was pretty happy that the plan to merge the two ITs is still on track.

‘We need to be careful not to say anything to hurt the project,’ he said.

Cllr Oisin O’ Connell likened the ongoing discussions about the university plan to the relationship between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind saying:

‘Will they get together, won’t they get together. I don’t care as long as something happens,’ he said. Cllr O’Connell said that they need to push for the university.

‘Before it’s gone with the wind,’ chimed in Cllr Paddy Kavanagh.

(First published in the New Ross Standard newspaper: print edition. Also available online at: http://www.independent.ie/regionals/newrossstandard/news/cllr-george-lawlor-calls-for-movement-on-it-merger-as-part-of-university-of-the-south-east-plan-34818400.html)