Gilmore defends wife's sale of €525,000 site for school

Fri, Nov 5, 2010, 00:00

LABOUR PARTY leader Eamon Gilmore has denied that recent media coverage surrounding the sale by his wife of land for a Galway school was embarrassing for him.

Mr Gilmores wife, Carol Hanney, received €525,000 from the State for the site in 2007. Ms Hanney responded to a public advertisement seeking land for a new school in Killimor, in the east of Co Galway.

The 2½ acre site, which was part of land Ms Hanney inherited from her late mother, was sold to the Office of Public Works (OPW) acting on behalf of the Department of Education.

Separately, Ms Hanney subsequently received €10,000 for a smaller adjoining site for use as a “hurling pitch” following an approach from the local parish priest, Mr Gilmore said.

Speaking yesterday on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Gilmore said his wife was entitled to do “as she saw fit” with the land. “This is land Carol inherited from her late mother. She was approached by the board of management of the school to make the site available. It was publicly advertised by the OPW and independently valued.”

Asked if the Taoiseach’s wife Mary Cowen had owned the land whether the Labour Party would think it was nothing to do with Brian Cowen, Mr Gilmore said he couldn’t recall any time the Labour Party “had made an issue of what the spouse of a politician has done with land he or she inherited”.

The Office of Public Works earlier this week described as “reasonable” the €525,000 paid for the site in 2007. “The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland on behalf of the Department of Education and Science purchased a 2½ acre site for €525,000 for a school in Killimor from Ms Carol Hanney.

“The deal was agreed in 2006 and completed in 2007,” a spokesman said.

“All sites purchased by the OPW on behalf of the Department of Education are subject to a valuation being carried out. The commissioners’ valuer inspected the site and advised that the agreed price was reasonable.”