Sunday 23 July 2017

Well known developer Owen O'Callaghan dies after short illness

Cork-based property developer Owen O'Callaghan. Photo: Tom Burke
Cork-based property developer Owen O'Callaghan. Photo: Tom Burke
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Tributes have been paid to property developer Owen O'Callaghan who has died after a short illness.

The Cork-based developer, who was in his 70s, ranked as one of the highest profile construction industry officials in the country and was responsible for major residential and commercial projects in both Cork and Dublin.

The projects he developed over the years included the Liffey Valley Centre in Dublin, Mahon Point Shopping Centre in Cork and the Opera Lane complex in Cork.

He had failed in a bid two years ago to develop a €70m new events centre in Cork.

Over the past 40 years, he was responsible for some of the biggest residential developments in both Dublin and Cork, particularly around Ballincollig.

However, Mr O'Callaghan was also at the centre of some of Ireland's highest profile political rows over the past two decades.

Rival developer Tom Gilmartin had claimed Mr O'Callaghan paid former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern some IR£80,000 for assistance with a project in

Dublin.

Both Mr Ahern and Mr O'Callaghan vehemently rejected the claim which later became a central aspect of the long-running Mahon planning tribunal in Dublin Castle.

Mr O'Callaghan would go on to lodge numerous legal challenges to the planning tribunal and its findings.

A key aspect of these was the work undertaken by former Government press secretary and lobbyist Frank Dunlop on behalf of Mr O'Callaghan.

Mr O'Callaghan also became embroiled in a row with former Public Enterprise Minister Michael Lowry who claimed in 1995 that a "golden circle" was operating within Ireland.

This followed claims about the strategic Horgan's Quay site in Cork which Mr O'Callaghan had intended to develop.

The project was subsequently abandoned.

Mr O'Callaghan later said that he utterly rejected the findings of the Mahon tribunal and claimed that they were biased, unjust and unfair.

Over the past decade, Mr O'Callaghan had focussed most of his energies in his native Cork, firstly with a hospital project which did not proceed and latterly with his failed bid for the Cork events centre.

His firm is currently developing the largest single site commercial office building ever built in Cork.

A plan to expand the Mahon Point Shopping Centre was also being considered

The developer was a staunch support of numerous charitable causes in Cork and was also deeply involved in the arts.

Mr O'Callaghan is married to Sheelagh and has two children, Brian and Zelda.

His youngster daughter, Hazel (22), died in a freak accident in July 2002 when she fell while loading a horse into a horse box.

The young woman fell backwards off a ramp and struck her head, suffering fatal injuries.

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