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I've no regrets over sale of Dartmouth Square -- O'Gara

BUSINESSMAN Noel O'Gara said he has no regrets that the Victorian square in Dublin where he planned to build a car park is now being sold after a liquidator's order.

The entrepreneur was embroiled in a legal battle with Dublin City Council over the use of Dartmouth Square in Ranelagh.

The park will now go under the hammer at the Allsop Space distressed property auction in December.

The square, which was originally bought for €10,000 in 2005, is being sold on the instruction of a High Court liquidator.

The move comes after Dublin City Council secured a High Court order against Marble and Granite Tiles Ltd, a company run by Mr O'Gara and his wife Naramon.

Mr O'Gara said that he has no sense of sadness at being forced to let go of his prime site.

"Not at all, I could do nothing with it," he told the Herald.

"They wouldn't even let me park cars there. The council charges €2.90 per hour to park outside the park."

Mr O'Gara refused an offer of €100,000 from the council to buy the square before a compulsory purchase order for the land was secured in 2006. But he had plans to construct a place for commuters to park their cars.

"I wanted to build a multi-storey car park with a garden on the roof, four or five storeys up," he said. "The Luas stop, Charlemont is just 50 yards from my bit of land and there is no car park in that area."

"I wanted to build a car park but they (the council) wouldn't entertain that. I was quite happy to let people walk in to it and use it. I just decided I wanted to do it to prove the point," he added. "I could see that the Irish economy was going out of control. The bureaucrats are in charge of everything.

"The businessman, the developers, the entrepreneurs -- anyone with a bright spark of business inside their brain -- they can do nothing."







Caravan

Mr O'Gara, who now lives in a Georgian house in Westmeath, said his company was put into liquidation after the High Court case.

"The council were chasing me to pay the legal fees, about €40,000, and I don't have it," he told the Herald.

In 2008, the square was designated an architectural conservation area, limiting the type of development that can take place. Then one year later, the park was eventually reopened to the local community.

The businessman attempted to sell tiles from the site before setting up a caravan -- both of these were closed down and removed after a court order.

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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