Council seeks order to compel Achill 'Stonehenge' demolition

Thu, Dec 8, 2011, 00:00

MAYO COUNTY Council is seeking a High Court order compelling property developer Joe McNamara to demolish a “Stonehenge-like structure” built as a “place of reflection” on Achill Island.

An application received earlier this week from Mr McNamara to have the structure declared exempted development was regarded by the council as not valid as “we still don’t know what it [the structure] is”, Pat Butler SC, for the council, said.

Mr McNamara, who came to prominence over a cement mixer lorry with the words “toxic bank” emblazoned on it being driven at the gates of Leinster House, was freed from prison on Monday after being jailed by Mr Justice Roderick Murphy last Friday for contempt of court orders requiring work to immediately cease on the structure.

The council claims the structure, which consists of an outer ring of 30 large columns with tapping stones placed on top, is an unauthorised development built without permission close to a protected archaeological site.

Mr McNamara (41), Achill Island and Salthill, Co Galway, has contended the structure does not require planning permission because it is an exempted development within the meaning of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001.

Mr McNamara was asked by the council’s planning officers last week to stop the unauthorised works but he continued with them.

When the matter returned before the court yesterday, Mr Butler sought an early hearing date for the council’s application.

Mr Justice Murphy said it was unlikely the case could be heard before Christmas and adjourned the matter to today to fix a hearing date. The judge also noted Mr McNamara’s undertakings that no further work would be carried out on the site and that his solicitors would accept any documents served on him by the council.