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Sale of Royal Tara could pay for airport purchase

Dara Bradley

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Royal Tara China at Mervue.

The four agreements under which Galway Corporation leased out Royal Tara China in Mervue, have been made public following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Three of the leases, which were each for 250 years, were signed in the 1950s. The fourth lease was signed in 1977.

The leases have become of interest now that the development of Royal Tara China in Mervue is back on the agenda as Galway City Council plans to relinquish its interest in the property in return for half a million Euros.

The local authority has revealed it is planning to dispose of its freehold interest in the historic building and site, and use the proceeds to fund the deal to buy Galway Airport.

Officials at City Hall briefed Galway City Councillors about its plans to offload its interest in Royal Tara buildings, and the 1.9 hectares of land it sits on.

City Councillors have been advised that the local authority is now obliged to sell its freehold.

“Galway City Council have sought legal opinion on the request by Royal Tara Holdings to sell the property and it was confirmed that City Council are obliged to sell the freehold interest once price exceeds market valuation,” a briefing document says.

The report notes a valuation has been carried out on the site by external consultants based on market values. “The price agreed of €353,000 exceeds the market valuation,” the report says.

The first lease in 1955 was £3,183 for 250 years. The annual rent was one shilling. This is for one acre, one rood and 28 perches which includes house and outhouses. The house could be used for a dwelling for a factory.

The second lease in 1957 was £200 for 250 years. Annual rent is one shilling and this was for an extra three rood and three perches.

The third lease in 1959 was £253.15.6 and this again was for 250 years. Annual rent was one shilling, which was for one acre and 33.36 perches.

The fourth lease in 1977 was for £831.2.5. This lease was for 500 years with an annual rent of five pence.

The fourth lease stipulates that no building whatsoever can take place on the lands at Royal Tara.

The three previous leases explicitly banned the use of the buildings and land for a dance hall, gambling or wagering or public amusements other than a cinema or theatre.

The leases also stipulated, “that they not carry on any noisy trade or offensive trade or offensive manufacture.”

Management at Galway City Council have recommended to Galway City Councillors to dispose of the site.

The recommendation says: “Disposal of freehold interest to Royal Tara China holdings Limited for the total sum of €535,000 with the proceeds of sale used to purchase Galway Airport. The cost of the airport site is €550,000 plus VAT, land registry and legal fees”.

The leases, which have been seen by the Sentinel, were released to former Labour Party Galway City Councillor, Nuala Nolan, under FOI. Ms Nolan was also a former employee of Royal Tara China.

Royal Tara is to be discussed by councillors again in the coming weeks.

Connacht Tribune

A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day

John McIntyre

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Conor Reddington of Annaghdown and Tuam Stars' Adam Carton in action during the North Board Minor B football final at Tuam Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.

Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.

With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.

Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Greens see red on gold rush

Dara Bradley

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Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.

Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.

They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.

The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.

And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.

However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure

Declan Tierney

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The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.

The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.

Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.

The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.

Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.

When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.

Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.

It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.

For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.

Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.

He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.

He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.

With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.

He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.

The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.

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