Flatley invited to talks on restoration planning row

MICHAEL FLATLEY has been invited to talks with a county manager about his €30 million refurbishment of a stately home, amid fears he could drop the project after having some of the work turned down.

Cork county manager Maurice Moloney said yesterday he would be delighted to speak with the multi-millionaire about any alterations he wanted to make to Castlehyde House.

The council refused permission for retention of a gym and two decorative ponds which the star had built at his home near Fermoy.

A local councillor walked out of a meeting in Cork County Hall yesterday, in protest at not being allowed talk about fears that the council’s decision might lead to Flatley scrapping the rest of the project and selling up.

Councillor Frank O’Flynn returned to the meeting a few hours later and again raised the issue. He claimed that the town of Fermoy and Michael Flatley were receiving very negative publicity as a result of the planning refusal.

“We’re very proud of Michael Flatley and what he has put into the local economy. The people locally are saying we’re hounding out people like Michael Flatley. The feeling on the ground is that we could lose him. The Georgian mansion he’s renovating could go to ruin,” said Mr O’Flynn.

Councillor Aileen Pyne, who also lives in Fermoy, suggested the best way forward was not to air such issues in public and claimed she’d been working behind the scenes to resolve the situation.

“If he [Flatley] was an ordinary Joe Soap and had a problem with planning we wouldn’t be here discussing it,” said Councillor Tim Collins.

Flatley has appealed the matter to An Bord Pleanála and is awaiting a decision. The county manager said five of the seven works for which the dancer had applied for retention had been granted.

“It is a matter for the appeals board to decide whether the council got it right or not,” said Mr Moloney. He said he would be delighted to talk to Flatley about any issue regarding his proposals.

Michael Flatley was unavailable for comment.

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