A staunch Fianna Fáil supporter who wants to buy its headquarters in Cork has criticised the party for its treatment of him during the bidding process.
Chartered engineer James Corcoran has now called on party leader Micheál Martin to halt the sale of 49 Grand Parade until he gets an explanation for what he described as the “very poor and unprofessional treatment” he claims he received from the party during the process.
In a letter to Mr Martin and several Fianna Fáil TDs, which has been seen by the Irish Examiner, Mr Corcoran said: “I would request that the Fianna Fáil party would stop the sale of this building until a full investigation is carried out on all transactions associated with the property so there is full transparency and most importantly, [in] making the correct decisions for the Fianna Fáil party.”
Mr Corcoran declined to comment on the stand-off yesterday.
The striking bow-fronted building on Grand Parade, which was the party’s Cork HQ for almost 60 years, was placed on the market by the party in late 2010, with an asking price of €495,000.
It was opened by Éamon de Valera in 1952 and over the years hosted party meetings, strategy sessions, strokes, heaves and celebrations. All party TDs would have held constituency clinics here, in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Its first-floor formal meeting room was lined with photographs of leading party figures including de Valera, Seán Lemass, Jack Lynch, Bertie Ahern and Albert Reynolds. The room was no longer in use when Brian Cowen was Taoiseach.
The four-storey 2,600sq-ft building is a registered protected structure, and is one of a handful of surviving late 18th century slate-hung, bow-fronted buildings on the Grand Parade.
Mr Corcoran made two offers for it in November 2013 — an initial offer of €105,000 which was increased within days to €115,000.
He proposed to renovate the building and its historic meeting room, with a view to making the room available for free at any time for party meetings.
He said he was led to believe that his second offer would be presented to the Fianna Fáil Ard Comhairle with a recommendation of acceptance.
But Mr Corcoran said he was told by the estate agent handling the sale that the party instructed him they had received an offer of €150,000, and was not willing to proceed with his offer.
“As a proud supporter of Fianna Fáil I want to help the party in any way I can,” Mr Corcoran wrote. “I have called around to doors canvassing for Jack Lynch in Cork city, Michael Ahern in East Cork, canvassed for Brian Crowley for his MEP post in Europe, canvassed for Albert Reynolds for Taoiseach. One of the reasons why I wanted to purchase 49 Grand Parade was to ensure that the Fianna Fáil party would be able to use their traditional home in Cork city and help them re-build the party and get them back into power where we belong.
“It is my opinion, that if Jack Lynch was around today, he would want to see this building being used by fellow members of the Fianna Fáil party for meetings, raleigh’s (sic), election storage etc as Fianna Fáil currently do not have a city-centre presence in Ireland’s second largest city.”
A Fianna Fáil spokesperson confirmed the building is owned in trust on behalf of the party by the National Trustees.
“It has been for sale for over a year and while the process has not yet been completed, there is an obligation on the party to have the premises sold for the highest possible consideration.” He declined to comment further.
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