Tuesday 25 June 2019

Market House petition ‘wrong and based on misinformation'

County council chief critical of campaign to reinstate previous plan for Gorey site

Cllr Fionntáin Ó’Suilleabháin
Cllr Fionntáin Ó’Suilleabháin

David Looby

An online petition on the scaling back of plans for the Market House in Gorey by the local authority from what developer Harry Crosbie had planned for the main street venue was described as wrong and based on misinformation at the monthly meeting of Wexford County Council.

Cllr Fionntáin Ó'Suilleabháin raised the issue. 'The petition has a substantial following. I think the thrust of the online campaign reflects badly on seven of the eight councillors in Gorey,' he said, asking Chief Executive Tom Enright to clarify the situation of the Market House. Director of Services for Special Projects, Eddie Taaffe said: 'The person who expressed an interest in the development has formally withdrawn it. We have put in our own €2m into a plan to redevelop Market House into a multi function venue.'

The venue would be used for exhibitions, open air events, with a marquee for indoor events. 'It's still very much on track, albeit not in the same format. It's more of an outdoor venue. We are about to appoint architects to go ahead with that,' Mr Taaffe said.

Mr Enright said: 'That whole thing has become an unfortunate mess in a lot of ways. Normally if someone wants to engage with us it is because they haven't got what they wanted they would talk to us and not to the local media. We have got an initial application for €400,0000 for the project. The person who is looking to partner with us has put very little money in. We are not going to put in a museum or a little garden. We want it to be of benefit for the people of Gorey,' he said, adding that it will benefit the town's main street. 'Your ambition is to do something that will benefit Gorey and provide a facility the community will use.'

Mr Enright said a design team has been working on the project. 'We are prescripted by the public procurement process to go through a public process. We can't just hand public money to a private builder. We have to ensure value for money for the taxpayer.'

Describing the petition as 'wrong and based on misinformation,' Mr Enright said: 'This is creating a fuss. We have made a final decision for the Market House. We are not against this project. We want to see this project move forward,' he said, adding that it meets the department of finance's criteria for rural generation grants.

Cllr George Lawlor criticised Minister of State Michael D'Arcy Jnr for his comments on local radio saying that his misunderstanding of the rules of procurement was astounding. 'The councillors (in Gorey) who voted against this should be congratulated,' he said.

Cllr Pip Breen added that he was disappointed by Mr D'Arcy's comments.

Cllr Joe Sullivan thanked Mr Enright for the way he clarified the situation. 'While others are going to the local media and are trying to mislead the public, the councillors here have huge ambition.'

Cllr John Hegarty said the decision that was made was made in the best interests of the people of Gorey. 'That continues to be the case and I commend my fellow councillors for holding their nerve during this as it would have been very easy to get pulled into an ugly spat.'

Gorey Guardian