Castle owner wanted €5k for market, say traders

The owner of Blarney Castle wanted a €5,000 down payment, and a cut of traders’ profits, before he would sanction a St Patrick’s Day street market on the local village green, it was claimed last night.

The details emerged as two national bodies representing street and market traders rejected Charles Colthurst’s claims that traders lined up for Saturday’s event in the Co Cork village did not have proper insurance cover.

Mr Colthurst, whose family has owned the green since the 18th century, pulled the plug on the market on Tuesday on the advice of his insurance broker.

His said there were issues regarding public liability, product liability and employer’s liability cover.

Ciarán Casey, a founder of Market Alive Support Team which manages a group insurance scheme, insisted that all the traders were fully covered, and questioned whether Mr Colthurst had another agenda.

“This is completely mystifying and baffling. It’s the first time we’ve come across this issue. There have been several similar events on this green in recent years and there was no issue…

“So why the turnaround? And to do it within such short notice, ahead of the most important festival in Irish culture, seems to me to be particularly cruel.”

The Irish Organisation of Market Street Traders also rejected Mr Colthurst’s claims. Its manager Gráinne Quinn insisted that all their members are fully insured, and that each individual trader’s policy provides an indemnity to the landowner to the value of €6.5m.

Joanne O’Doherty, the administrator of the Blarney Farmers’ and Craft Market, said Mr Colthurst’s representatives had traders’ insurance details three weeks ago and never raised concerns. “No opportunity was given to us in the last three weeks for any discussion. This could have been worked out with a phone call.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Conway, chairman of festival organisers, Blarney Community Council, backed calls for the green to the compulsorily acquired by Cork County Council.

“A place like this should be in public ownership.”

Mr Colthurst was not available for comment last night.

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