Údarás seeks partner to use decaying school

Údarás na Gaeltachta has said it is actively seeking a partner to make use of the decaying Coláiste Íosagáin in Ballyvourney.

The state agency said it remained open to fresh talks with Trident Safety Group, which has shelved plans for a training campus at the former De la Salle all-Irish school.

Trident blamed “bureaucracy” on behalf of Údarás for its decision to look to Wales for an international safety training centre.

The company believed this would have brought 120 full-time jobs to Ballyvourney if it was allowed to take Coláiste Íosagáin off Údarás’ hands for a nominal sum.

Údarás has defended its handling of the issue.

It said it had met with the technical director of Trident, Bernard Walsh, several times after seeking business proposals from parties interested in Coláiste Íosagáin.

It said it had been taken by Trident’s proposal but needed more comprehensive plans.

“Údarás indicated from the outset that they were interested with the business concept that Mr Walsh was proposing and that it was in line with its overall enterprise development objectives,” the agency said.

“At the time, we indicated to Mr Walsh that Údarás’ decision to sell the property would be based on a comp-rehensive business development and implementation plan demonstrating the viability, funding, and market potential of the proposed project.”

Mr Walsh said his company walked away from talks when Údarás flagged that it was not prepared to release the property for a nominal sum, even on condition that Trident pay €3.5m for the renovation.

He said the offer from Údarás, of a 30-year lease, was not secure enough for that level of investment, adding he had met Údarás officials in Galway, Dingle, and Cork in the belief his plans would be supported.

The agency said: “There would have been severe issues had we simply handed over a state asset without a comprehensive business plan... and information that would allow us to comprehensively analyse the viability of the development.”

Údarás said in correspondence to Trident in Apr, July, and Aug 2011 that it required these details.

“We also required that Trident Safety illustrate that the necessary management and technical expertise be available to establish the new enterprise on a stable foundation,” it said.

“Údarás executives said that they were willing to make a proposal to the Údarás board for consideration to fund a percentage of the costs of the business plan, providing the necessary information was made available by Trident Safety.”

In response to Údarás, Mr Walsh said the agency was already in possession of all the information it had asked for and his understanding was that it was simply looking for updates.

He said he abandoned the grant application for exploratory costs because it did not see a resolution.


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