Plans to carry out an extensive refurbishment of Granard Town Hall suffered a major setback this week following news that the government cannot proceed with the scheme because of budgetary cutbacks.
County Manager Tim Caffrey told elected representatives at last week’s monthly council meeeting that there was no more funding available from central government this year.
“They have run out of money for this year,” he said, while also pausing to reveal two parliamentary questions had been submitted on the long running issue.
“I think it’s very important we keep this on the agenda,” said Mr Caffrey.
As a number of councillors attempted to digest the news, Mr Caffrey left the door open for a possible u-turn should projects in other counties fail to materialise.
“He (Environment Minister, Phil Hogan) did say that in the event of capital project money not being drawn down that there might be an opening somewhere along the line. It would be great if there wasn’t a drawdown in some area and I think in the current climate that is positive.”
Earlier, Town Mayor Cllr PJ Reilly said he exchanged words with Mr Hogan about the project at a recent Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) meeting.
“I know that the county manager (Mr Caffrey) is very anxious to get the funding for this. When I spoke with Phil Hogan, he said he was very well briefed by the county manager,” he said.
Although attempting to remain upbeat, Cllr Reilly’s comments were soured somewhat by claims that Granard had been relegated in favour of the refurbishment of Ballymahon courthouse.
“Granard was always first on the list,” said Cllr Fintan Flood. The last county manager (Tony Killeen) kept pushing for it but Ballymahon got in first.”
Cllr Flood said he was at a loss as to explain how this might have occurred just as Cllr Maura Kilbride Harkin revealed she had submitted a notice of motion on the matter during her time at county council level.
The Fine Gael representative was more whimsical however when making a direct plea to Mr Caffrey for the Town Hall’s floor to be cleaned. “I will have a look at it, but I haven’t any money on me at the minute,” said an amused Mr Caffrey. Allowing herself a wry smile, Cllr Kilbride Harkin jovially replied: “A cheque will do.”