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Council says no ‘sweet deal’ in Westport land sale


SPACE NEEDED With an ever expanding membership, Westport GAA are looking to develop new playing facilities on the Golf Course Road, away from their current pitches (pictured) which are located on the Newport Road in the town. 

Flynn questions deal linked to land on Golf Course Road

Anton McNulty

A SENIOR official in Mayo County Council says there is no ‘sweet deal’ between the Council and the Hughes family involving the sale of seven acres of land in Westport.
The sale of land on Westport’s Golf Course Road from Mayo County Council to Hughes-owned Inishoo Management Limited was approved by members of the Westport Belmullet Municipal District – but not without some reservations from Westport councillor Peter Flynn.
The Fine Gael councillor had proposed that the approval of the sale be deferred to allow councillors get all the information on the sale and visit the site.
He questioned the deal, which will see the council sell Inishoo Management Ltd 6.7 acres of land close to the Cheaspeake print company. In exchange, Inishoo Management will give the council €360,225 and 4.1 acres of land it owns, adjacent to council lands along the Golf Course Road.
The meeting heard that if the sale were not approved, there could be negative consequences on a separate deal between Westport GAA, Mayo County Council and Inishoo Management Ltd.
In that deal, both the council and Inishoo Management Ltd agreed to lease land they both owned to the GAA club, so that the club’s new facilities could be developed on eight acres also along the Golf Course Road.

‘Landlocked hill’

In questioning the sale, Cllr Flynn claimed the deal would see the council losing seven acres of ‘prime development land’ and that in return the council would get a ‘landlocked hill’ in Kilmeena.
Defending the deal, Director of Services Catherine McConnell told Cllr Flynn that she stood over the sale of the seven acres and rejected suggestion that the council is getting a bad deal. She said the portion of land that the council will get from Inishoo Management Limited as part of the deal was not landlocked, but will consolidate the land bank they already own along the Golf Course Road.
Cllr Flynn asked her if she was satisfied with the deal, and she said she was.
“It is to consolidate our land bank so we can have it in a form and a shape which makes it usable and suitable in the future for recreational and amenity purposes, should that be the decision to use it for that purpose. There is a significant payment of money to make up for the differential in land values in front of the councillors as well. There is no sweet deal in any shape or form being put out there,” she said.

‘Three-way agreement’
The councillors were also asked to approve the lease of four acres of land from the Council to Westport GAA, which had also agreed to lease an adjacent four-acre site from Inishoo Management Limited.
Cllr Flynn said they were separate agreements, and that deferring the land sale should not impact on the Westport GAA development, which he said he agreed with 100 percent.
“We are talking about seven acres of prime development land in the Westport urban area where we already have a signifiant deficit in terms of housing. We are handing the last bits of land we have, and I don’t think it is acceptable to do that without full information,” he said.
However, this was rejected by his fellow Westport councillors, Brendan Mulroy and Christy Hyland, who said that a deferral of the sale would derail the GAA club’s plans.
“The dogs on the street know that this is a three-way agreement here, so the GAA can get a piece of ground for the children to play on. I commend the local family [the Hugheses], who have engaged with the GAA when they could have said, ‘No we will not do anything or co-operate’.
“In fairness they have engaged and try and help and let us as a council step up to the plate and get these new pitches to the young people of Westport,” he said, and he pleaded with Cllr Flynn not to delay the approval of the sale.
Ms McConnell also added: “We understand that the transfer of land amongst the three parties could be derailed if they [the sale plans] are not dealt with.”
Carrowholly-based John O’Malley said he welcomed Westport GAA to Carrowholly but also expressed concerns what the seven acres would be used for. He said he did not wish to see any further housing development along the road.
Ms McConnell replied that she was not aware of any plans for the land in question and the council did not have any immediate plans for the land they owned.
Following a lengthy discussion, the sale of the site to Inishoo Management Limited was approved after Cllr Flynn failed to get further support and abstained. The lease of the land to Westport GAA was also approved unanimously.
The two matters will go before the April meeting of Mayo County Council for formal approval.