AFTER a ten-year deadlock, the prospect of an IDA Technology Park for employment blackspot, Ballina, may finally become a reality. The Mayo News has learned that Mayo County Council and Mr Eamonn Molloy, the two parties involved in the epic dispute over the ownership of the Sligo Road site on which the proposed park is to be developed, are in ‘ongoing and sensitive’ discussions aimed at resolving outstanding issues. Discussions began on the steps of Castlebar Courthouse last week, prior to a scheduled circuit court hearing of the case.
“We understand there is a settlement which will enable the land purchase to be completed and the development to go ahead,” confirmed County Secretary, Mr John Condon on Monday. He said he was not in a position to comment further.
IDA spokesman, Mr Jim Murren, said the authority was aware that the issue of title had been finalised between the County Council and the litigant.
“Our grand plan is to push ahead as quickly as possible once we have agreed certain issues with the Council,” said Mr Murren.
Last December, The Mayo News revealed that the Council’s case for ‘unencumbered title’ had become further convoluted by the fact that Mr Molloy had also filed a suit claiming title to a disputed right of way on the property. The two cases were consequently consolidated for the sake of expediency.
While the apparent resolution of the debacle has been broadly welcomed, it is not viewed as ‘a panacea’ by Fine Gael general election candidate, Ms Michelle Mulherin.
“I welcome any resolution of the matter but there’s a lot more to this issue than the present talks. The reality is that after ten years in office this Government has presided over 1,500 job losses in the Ballina and north Mayo area.
Ms Mulherin also argued that ‘the people will not be fooled’ by last week’s Fianna Fáil deputation to Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr Micheál Martin, and the IDA, claiming it amounted to nothing ‘more that a cosmetic exercise to create an impression of interest in Mayo’ in the lead-up to the election.
It is believed that Mayo County Council has spent in the region of €2.5 million on the purchase and servicing of the controversial lands to date.
Fianna Fáil candidate, Mr Dara Calleary strongly challenges Ms Mulherin’s contentions.
“Last week’s meeting with Minister Martin was timed in advance of the resolution of this issue in order to put maximum pressure on the IDA. I have told the Minister I will sit on his door until the IDA takes action,” said Dara Calleary.
He observed that, rather than Michelle Mulherin blaming Government, she should look closer to home, to the Fine Gael majority on Mayo County Council who had patently, in his view, failed to bring the issue forward.
Meanwhile, The Mayo News can confirm that Property Developers, Bannon Commerical are still in negotiations with a number of interested parties regarding the purchase of an adjacent 15.22 acre site, with planning permission for first-phase development of six stand-alone retail warehousing and office units.