Confusion this week surrounds ongoing attempts to bring one of Co Longford’s most historic sites back into public ownership.
Granard Motte, a 12th century Anglo-Norman fortified structure, has been at the centre of continuing talks between Longford County Council and Department of Arts and Heritage
The parties had been hoping to strike a deal with the site’s present owner in a bid to purchase it.
However, at last week’s monthly council meeting, elected members were told negotiations had broken down and that the Department’s existing offer to jointly acquire the Motte with the Council had been withdrawn.
Director of Services Barbara Heslin said the Council had only been notified of the setback just 24 hours earlier.
Citing an excerpt from the Department’s National Monuments Service, Ms Heslin stated:
“The Department’s offer to acquire the lands has been withdrawn. The matter as now is closed as far as the Department is concerned.
However speaking to the Longford Leader on Tuesday, local TD James Bannon was adamant that a deal could still be done and that the Department’s offer was still on the table.
“The Minister is giving €50,000 toward the purchase of the motte,” Deputy Bannon claimed, adding that a deal can still be worked out.
Speaking at the meeting last week, Fianna Fail’s PJ Reilly said he was baffled by the suddenness of the announcement.
“I am disappointed and shocked at the attitude of the Department on this,” he despondently remarked.
“Granard Town Council in conjunction with Longford County Council are willing to put half the funding towards the purchase of this site which is one of the most historical sites not only within our county but within the midlands region.”
Fine Gael Cllr Paraic Brady said he too had been left dismayed by the decision particularly when talks with the motte’s present owner had been ongoing.
“I’m shocked at news that negotiations have broken down,” he said.
As he asked for a copy of the letter, Cllr Brady said it was his understanding that no correspondence had been forwarded to the site’s owner over the deal’s supposed collapse.
Cllr Micheál Carrigy was more upbeat, saying he believed an agreement could still be reached .