'Deeply concerning'

County mayor questions implications of city council's purchase of Killtullagh property

The purchase of a property by the Galway City Council in Killtullagh, Oranmore has been described by the Mayor of the Galway County Council, James Charity, as "deeply concerning".

Mayor Charity said while he accepted the Galway City Council did not break the law in acquiring the property, he contended that Galway County councillors should have been notified before the sale of the house was agreed.

"There is something deeply concerning about this," he said. "It is a deeply undemocratic exercise function of any authority to go into another [local authority area to purchase a property] without informing that local authority.

"While city manager [Brendan McGrath] maintains [the purchase was] legal, it nonetheless remains the responsibility of councils, to engage with other councils."

Mayor Charity's comments come after director of housing, Liam Hanrahan, told members at the local authority's plenary meeting at GMIT on Friday morning that the city council did not have to provide prior warning or permission to undertake its function.

Mr Hanrahan said; "[Prior warning to purchase] was not required under Government acts. If [the city council] decides to purchase a property [within county boundaries], it is their right to do so. They are not required to seek our permission or agreement to undertake function. In terms of ability to affect a decision or engage [in the future], it is at will of the city council in order to progress engagement with us.

"Who goes into that property will not be our tenant. The tenancy agreement is under the city council."

The CEO of the county council, Kevin Kelly, reiterated Mr Hanrahan's assertions stating the city council was legally entitled to follow the course of action which it pursued and under current legislation, there was mechanism to prevent the sale.

Mr Kelly said: "The bottom line is the legal position is quite clear. The city is legally entitled to take action [it did]. There is no mechanism for us to change that. If [the city council] take a different position that will be their choice, not by our position."

Lack of respect

Responding to the executives' comments, Fine Gael councillor Jimmy McClearn said the purchase of the property without county councillors' prior knowledge was a sign of lack respect from the city council.

He said: "The issue is a lack of respect that the city executive has for the county council. [This purchase] shows the contempt they have for us, they have for the executive and the council.

"There is something fundamentally wrong about this. We need to send a clear message to city that this is not on. We don't like it; we don't accept; and we don't want to see it happen again."

Fianna Fáil councillor Donagh Killilea told the chamber that city chief executive Brendan McGrath "had pulled a fast one" on the county council while Connemara councillor Tomás Ó Curraoin said both councils should work within their own boundary areas to provide social housing.

Tuam-area councillor Pete Roche and Independent councillor Tom Welby suggested a change in Government policy was needed to prevent the situation from arising once more.

When asked for a comment a spokesperson for the Galway City Council said: "Galway City Council confirms that it has recently acquired a single house which is within the administrative area of Galway County Council. The purchase was, of course, carried out observing the necessary statutory requirements."


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