Maverick businessman takes on city council in row over parking
MAVERICK businessman Noel O'Gara, who came to prominence five years ago when he claimed ownership of leafy Dartmouth Square in Ranelagh in Dublin, has opened a new front in his on-going war with officialdom.
Now he has begun wielding a pair of heavy-duty bolt cutters and removing car-parking clamps from vehicles.
Mr O'Gara claims the cars are being clamped illegally by Dublin City Council. The Athlone-based businessman says he owns the land at the corner of Eaton and Terenure roads north in the south city which is now being used by Dublin City Council as a pay-and-display carpark.
While the HSE says it is the registered title holder of the land and that it has leased it to Dublin City Council, Mr O'Gara claims he owns the freehold and that the HSE forfeited its ownership rights by allowing the land lie vacant for decades.
Mr O'Gara bought the ground rents for the area for an undisclosed sum at an auction in the UK 10 years ago and he has demanded that all parking meters be taken down to allow for free parking.
He has also said that he is considering suing the city council for any income it has earned from parking meters and clamping on the site.
In a statement to the Sunday Independent, a spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said: "The land in question currently in use as a carpark on the Terenure Road North is in the ownership of the HSE.
"Dublin City Council has an agreement with the HSE whereby we can provide a carpark on the site and charge for parking.
"The monies collected from these users goes to the council and is used towards the upkeep of the facility."
Mr O'Gara is not convinced. As part of his campaign, he admits that he has removed clamps from cars using bolt cutters.
"It's happened on a good number of occasions. No one has come after me yet because they know they have no grounds to do it. It's my land; they have no right to charge people to park there and they have no right to clamp them," he says.
Mr O'Gara says he plans to open his own carpark on the site charging less than half what the city council is charging. "And there will be none of this clamping nonsense. If someone decides to leave a car there for a couple of overnights, I would just charge them a nominal fee. I would also throw the space open for community events at the weekend," he said.
Mr O'Gara says he also removed some Dublin City Council signage.
"I removed it and brought it in to the council offices. They have no right to put it on my land," he says.