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Council urged to move on plans for Westport convent site or sell up


Anton McNulty

Mayo County Council have come under pressure to outline plans for the development of the of the old convent site in Westport - or consider selling it on.
The Convent of Mercy site in Westport was purchased by Mayo County Council in 2008 for €4 million and plans to redevelop it have not yet been implemented. The building has fallen into disrepair in recent years and its location as a venue for anti-social behaviour was highlighted once again at yesterday’s monthly meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District.
The building was described was a ‘health and safety risk’ while councillor Tereasa McGuire said it was time the Council ‘considered selling it on’.
“It has gone on for so long and everyday we wait is costing us money. It is getting more run down and it is a location of anti-social behaviour,” she said. “I say with a heavy heart if we are not going to do something with it, we need to get rid of it. As it is, it is a millstone around our necks. We need for once and for all to set a deadline. We are now heading into March. If something hasn’t happened by the end of May, we should have it as an item on the agenda, to move to the next step.”
Cllr Christy Hyland and Cllr Brendan Mulroy also spoke on the issue. Cllr Hyland explained he visited it recently and described it as dangerous. He said young people go into the building at night and he feared a serious accident will occur in it.

‘There is going to be a tragedy’
“This cannot go on and on, we either develop it now or move it on completely. With the way the building is at the moment, there is going to be a tragedy. I went in due to the emails I got and saw the dangers posed by it. Something needs to be done quickly, go down and have a look around, it’s a total death trap,” he said.
Director of Services, Catherine McConnell, responded by saying that the site was a closed site and no unauthorised persons should be invited to visit it, even elected members. She said the Council have made the convent site their ‘priority’ for 2018 and they were meeting with the relevant government departments to accommodate the new library there and ‘best plot a path forward to bring it to fruition’.
Meanwhile, Ms McConnell confirmed that Mayo County Council’s legal representatives have forwarded on documentation to the Department of Education regarding the future of the Holy Trinity National School.
At the last meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District, the Council were asked to forward the relevant files to the department to advance the move of the Church of Ireland school to the old Scoil Phadraig building on Altamont Street. Ms McConnell said the matter was now ‘out of our hands’.

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