A Wexford councillor has listed an ‘investment property” in the historic Bullring Market among his assets in the latest Declaration of Interests by local public representatives.
Fine Gael councillor John Hegarty acquired the unit formerly owned by Furlong’s Butchers at the entrance to the market last autumn and it is now available for letting.
The property was on the market for a few years before being purchased by Cllr Hegarty. In October 2019, Independent councillor Leonard Kelly had urged Wexford County Council to buy it with a view to developing the market further as a public amenity for locals and tourists but the Council did not pursue the purchase.
At the time, it was offered for sale by Sherry Fitzgerald as a single lot comprising two separate units which are non-adjacent and fitted out with cold rooms for food producing. The total guide price for the two units was €265,000.
The auctioneers described it as being the “perfect location” for artisan food producers and said it had been “part of the commercial fabric of Wexford for generations.”
The front unit, a protected structure, was subsequently purchased by Cllr Hegarty with the sale being finalised last autumn and the remaining unit in the centre of the market beside the Wexford Tidy Towns building, is still for sale, it is understood.
In March 2021, Wexford Borough District Council publicly unveiled an ambitious multi-million Euro plan to transform the Cornmarket/Bullring area of Wexford, including the eventual installation of a glass roof over the historic market.
Senior Executive Engineer Sean Kavanagh presented a new vision for the area which includes the creation of usable open spaces with patterned paving, street lighting, street furniture and public art with the aim of enlivening the town centre and helping businesses to flourish.
Cllr Hegarty said he was looking at properties and his main interest in acquiring the Bullring unit was that it is a “beautiful building in an historic area” and is evident in many old photographs of Wexford.
He said it had been on sale for about two years before he took an interest in it and the plans for redevelopment of the general area were in the public domain long before he bought it.
Cllr Hegarty said he checked with the local authority and sought legal advice before the purchase to see if there was any conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest and he was clearly told that there was none.
"I know as a public representative that I am going to have to disclose all my interests and I know that there can’t be any question about it because of my position,” he said.
Cllr Hegarty declared the property on the most recent Ethics Register for Local Authority Members for the period January 2021 to January 2022 under the section “Land (ownership/interest)”.