A well known Co Longford developer has come under intense fire over contentious attempts to build a shopping centre close to a key 1916 Easter Rising battlegound.
Dromard builder and NAMA client Joe O’Reilly, owns a parcel of land along Moore Street, one of the last remaining stomping grounds linked to the infamous 20th century rebellion.
The notoriously media-shy developer who shot to prominence with his development of Dundrum Town Centre, Ireland’s largest shopping precinct, has planning permission for another 800,000 sq ft development that also takes in part of O’Connell Street.
Over the past seven days however, O’Reilly has attracted renewed criticism from a well established parliamantary watchdog over the plans.
In his capacity as chairman of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Labour TD Michael McCarthy, lashed out at Mr O’Reilly’s Chartered Land company for failing to engage with the Oireachtas supervisory group.
“The committee and myself... made every reasonable attempt to bring them in,” he said last Wednesday.
The Cork South-West politician said numerous attempts had been made to support the now Dublin based developer but branded demands for details to be heard away from the media spotlight as “unacceptable.”
Relatives of those most deeply associated with the Moore Street site were just as outspoken.
“We gave them assurances in relation to not being interrupted, being allowed access to address the committee through the chair. We gave them extended time - more so than any other witness.
“And they attempted to dictate to a joint committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas. That is repugnant to the idea of democracy.”
James Connolly Heron, great-grandson of 1916 leader James Connolly, urged Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan to step in by refusing consent for works on a stretch of land that only five years ago was deemed a national monument.
“If he (Mr Deenihan) says no, the present planning application falls, we go back to the drawing board,” he said.
“It is beyond belief that the State has not said to this publicly-funded Nama developer - on a salary of €200,000, paid out of the taxpayer’s purse - ‘Change the plans’.”