Thursday 23 November 2017

State paid €1.8m for three-acre site in 2009 . . . now it's worth €40,000

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

THE State spent €1.8m buying three acres of land two years ago even though the building planned for the site was already in doubt. The land in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny is now worth around €40,000.

The site was earmarked for the new Health and Safety Authority (HSA) headquarters as far back as 2003.

But decentralisation plans were already in doubt when it was eventually bought in 2009. They have since been scrapped.

Auctioneers believe there is only a "very slim chance" that the State will now be able to sell the land. It is now likely that it will be rezoned back to agricultural use so it can be rented out to a farmer.

The Irish Independent contacted the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on Wednesday. But it did not provide any answers on why the sale went through in 2009.

An advance party of 27 staff had moved to an "interim office" in Kilkenny city in 2008 while they awaited transfer following the completion of the headquarters. The bill for renting this office costs €79,000 per annum. It remains to be seen if the civil servants will stay in the rental accommodation.

Labour councillor in the area Michael O'Brien said it was clear in 2008 that the decentralisation "dream" was over.

At the time, he asked the Government to "cut the waffle".

However, the purchase of the three acres of land near Grennan College went ahead.

Other sites purchased for decentralisation projects include a 2.1-acre site in Drogheda at a cost of €12.4m; a three-acre site in Dungarvan for €2.1m; 2.1 acres in Edenderry for €1.5m; 5.3 acres in Mullingar for €8.25m; and three acres in Waterford for €8m.

Irish Independent

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