Barracks purchase still to be formally ratified

Longford Town and County Councils have yet to legally acquire Connolly Barracks, despite shaking hands with the Government on a deal almost a year and a half ago.

Longford Town and County Councils have yet to legally acquire Connolly Barracks, despite shaking hands with the Government on a deal almost a year and a half ago.

Town Manager Frank Sheridan said the council had consented to pay around €25,000 on an annual basis with the county council providing a similar sum in order to meet the previously agreed €450,000 asking price.

He was speaking as councillors discussed possible moves by the local authority to spend in excess of €130,000 on improvement works inside the facility.

Responding to concerns from Cllr Tony Flaherty and then Cllr Michael Connellan, Mr Sheridan revealed the council were still awaiting legal clearance to formally assume joint ownership of the former barracks.

“The total selling price was €450,000 and it was an agreement whereby that money would be paid for over a number of years. The way it was structured was that there would be a payment of €50,000 a year made between the two local authorities,” he said.

One of those who originally went against handing over money to pay for the barracks, Cllr Tony Flaherty asked whether the sums involved would stretch the council financially.

Cllr Michael Connellan took a similar line, saying the situation required further discussion.

“I would propose that we have a special meeting to discuss how best to spend this money. We are proposing to spend €133,000 on improvement works at Connolly Barracks and we haven’t even bought it yet,” he said.

Cllr Connellan also referred to his occupational work as a solicitor and the potential pitfalls that could await the council if the barracks deal encountered any further delays.

“As a solictor I wouldn’t advise any of my clients to go and spend money on a property that we haven’t bought. I would be a little bit hesitant in setting aside €133,000 in improvement works when we haven’t even bought it,” he said.

Mr Sheridan was quick to dispel any lingering fears about the barracks, pointing out both councils were effective owners of the site in all but name.

“We have tenants rights, it’s just we haven’t legally acquired it (at the moment),” he said.

Town Mayor Cllr Peggy Nolan followed that up, assuring members that plans to redevelop the barracks’ former site represented the “one shining beacon” for the town and its long term economic well being.