Fresh twist to Longford's Northern Quarter sale

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Northern Quarter

The currently unoccupied Longford Town Shopping Centre forms part of the town's so-called Northern Quarter

A deal to sell Longford's Northern Quarter may be further from being agreed than was first thought.
A special meeting was mooted to be in the offing at the behest of Longford County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Martin Mulleady ahead of yesterday evening's (Wednesday) monthly meeting.

The Leader, via its website www.longfordleader.ie, had indicated that a formal announcement would be made at the meeting concerning the proposed sale of both Connolly Barracks and the unoccupied Longford Town Shopping Centre.

Details of the expected deal followed recent revelations which confirmed County Council chiefs were in advanced talks with two prospective bidders for the site.

Chief executive Paddy Mahon told elected members at the local authority's annual budget meeting at the end of November that progress was being made in an attempt to finalise its sale.

It had been anticipated that Cllr Mulleady was scheduled to update councillors over a successful conclusion to those talks at the Council's final meeting of 2017.

However, a number of other locally elected representatives have poured cold water on those inferences in the days since.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Seamus Butler was the first to distance himself from any prospective announcement when contacted by the Leader on Monday.

“It must be very apparent that there is a community and social dividend resulting from all of this,” he said.

"I certainly won't be supporting the sale of Connolly Barracks until I am assured that that is in place.”
Cllr Butler said he believed local members were still in the dark over what may or may not be disclosed at Wednesday's meeting.

“We (councillors) have had no advance paperwork on it, so I would be very surprised if a decision is made.”

Cllr Butler said the sheerscale and long term implications on any proposed sell off of the Council's remaining portion of Connolly Barracks and the still vacant Longford Town Shopping Centre was too significant to simply rush through.

“The sale of local authority property is a reserved function of local authority members and I will be demanding we have due diligence on this.

“Until all of the is and all of the ts are dotted on this and that a community and social dividend is included, I will not be supporting it.”

Those cautionary soundings were ones which were shared by Fine Gael Cllr Peggy Nolan.
Like Cllr Butler, she too admitted to being uninformed as to what may or may not be disclosed later today (Wednesday).

“It (sale) definitely won't be rushed through at the last meeting before Christmas,” she boldly asserted.

“It's too important in terms of the development of that whole end of town.

“It has to be right. We (councillors) can't just say 'yeah, we will take that.

“It has to be right for the town.”

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