Traders to defy council over market site

TRADERS are preparing to risk fines and possible arrest by setting up an open air market in a west Cork town.

They plan to use ancient rights to establish the market in a car park in Clonakilty in defiance of the town council.

It would operate from 8am to 8pm on Fridays, with traders paying €10 per stall to the council.

Despite intensive lobbying by the market’s driving force, Gerald Kelleher of the Real Olive Company, the council narrowly voted against designating the trader’s favoured Spiller’s Lane car park for casual trading.

Councillors agreed instead to enhance the existing casual trading area near the community college car park which traders say is unsuitable.

Frustrated with the delays and apparent lack of council support, Mr Kelleher pressed ahead.

His solicitors established that market trading rights in Clonakilty dating from the 1600s have never been extinguished. Traders are prepared to use those rights if challenged.

They are being backed by chef and farmer’s market champion, Darina Allen, who will open the market at 12.30pm on Friday. They also have a letter of support from Food Minister, Trevor Sargent. Mr Kelleher was not available for comment yesterday.

Sinn Féin’s Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin said he has been supportive of the market from the outset.

“I admire the fact that Mr Kelleher has gone to so much trouble, and established that ancient market rights exist...

“But it would be a lot better if there was a more harmonious approach to this matter on Friday.”

A similar situation in Bantry in 2002 resulted in a High Court injunction restraining Cork council from interfering with the market. A Supreme Court hearing on this is pending.

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