'People of Sligo have been badly betrayed'
The actions of the County Council in the Lissadell case are indefensible and baffling.
That's according to Councillor Jim McGarry who said it would be the people of Sligo who would ultimately be paying the massive legal costs.
Clr McGarry, pictured, said: "The Minister for the Environment will not be picking up the bill and it will be up to the council to find this money.
"They may go to a bank for a loan and if they get it, they will fund the repayments out of the revenue they receive from the people of Sligo.
"This money could be better spent on roads or community groups or vital services."
He said he was wary of Clr Joe Leonard's motion seeking the preservation of rights of way at Lissadell when it appeared on a council agenda in December 2008.
He said: "I instantly recognised the legal implications of such a motion. For reasons still unknown to most of us, Clr Leonard's motion was bumped up the agenda.
"I still can't understand why it was all right to use public monies to pursue a matter pertaining to only a small group of disgruntled individuals without so much as the verbal opinion of a solicitor to support the Council's position."
Clr McGarry said in January 2009 he asked to have the legal process halted and to engage in mediation. It was a request which was over-ruled.
He had warned the Council was forcing the hand of the owners and they had no option but to fight their corner. If the council lost the case it would be left with a bill it would struggle to pay.
"It was a no-brainer, a complete lose-lose situation for the Council whatever the outcome," he said.
Clr McGarry added: "Five years ago, we had a flagship tourist attraction any town would be proud of. There were beautiful gardens, an exhibition hall, homegrown produce and a beautiful Lissadell Coffee Shop.
"At the heart of these changes were a family who were doing so much good for tourism and employment in our area."
"That effort was disregarded and disrespected. The people of Sligo have been badly betrayed by the actions of those involved in this decision and I am disgusted on their behalf."