Cork councillors must agree wording before seeking legal advice

Councillors embroiled in contentious plans to sell a publicly owned landbank in Cork must agree the wording to seek legal advice before they can seek that legal advice.

Cork councillors must agree wording before seeking legal advice

The latest twist in the Deanrock landbank sale saga emerged last night after ward councillors and two party whips attended a private meeting with assistant city manager Dan Buggy and city council meetings administrator Tadhg Keating to discuss the issue.

The meeting was called last week after councillors were told the city has been threatened with legal action, exposing it to potential damages of up to €15m, over its second attempt to sell the land for development.

Under the latest disposal attempt, city management want to sell the 2.83-acre site to a developer for €450,000.

Preliminary plans seek to build a three-storey building with a supermarket, local convenience stores, a pharmacy, and a HSE primary care centre.

However, the project is facing bitter local and cross-party political opposition.

At last week’s full council meeting, several councillors made sensational claims about the pressure they were put under to vote in a particular way in relation to the disposal, and they criticised city management for the way the entire disposal tendering process has been handled.

They said they wanted to get their own independent senior counsel advice before proceeding to discuss the disposal.

However, they were told yesterday that they must agree the wording of a formal motion, setting out exactly what legal advice they want, from whom, and for what reason, before they can seek that legal advice.

Work is under way to thrash out the wording, with councillors expected to sign off on the wording at an in-committee meeting of council next Monday, an hour before the full public council meeting.

It is understood that, once the wording of the motion is agreed, it could be brought before the full public meeting to be formally agreed in public, clearing the way for the advice to be sought.

The Togher Community Association opposes the site sale because of the current development proposals.

Fergal Dennehy, TCA’s secretary, a former city councillor, and local election candidate, said they are ready to call for ministerial intervention, or seek a judicial review if the disposal goes ahead.

“There is something not right with this disposal,” said Mr Dennehy. “It’s weird and strange. Somebody needs to get behind this and find out exactly what’s going on with the process from start to finish.”

His father, former TD John Dennehy, also criticised the disposal process.

“It stinks to high heaven. I’ve never seen anything handled the way this issue has been handled,” said Mr Dennehy Sr.

“Several questions needs to be answered. I’m glad that councillors are seeking legal advice, not to be browbeaten.”

He also rejected suggestions that his son is using the issue for electioneering purposes. “TCA has a track record of protecting Togher,” Mr Dennehy Sr said.

More in this section