Gilmore had 'no involvement' in wife's property deal with State

Wed, Nov 3, 2010, 00:00

LABOUR PARTY leader Eamon Gilmore has said he had “no involvement” in the process resulting in his wife, Carol Hanney, being paid €525,000 by the State for a Galway site in 2007.

Ms Hanney, who is chief executive of Dún Laoghaire VEC, 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. Ms Hanney could not be contacted yesterday.

“In 2006, my wife Carol Hanney sold to the Office of Public Works a site for a new primary school in Killimor. She had been approached a number of years earlier by the board of management of the school who were interested in the site because of its location in the village,” Mr Gilmore said.

“The site was part of land surrounding the family home, which Carol inherited from her late mother. The site was sold in response to a public advertisement seeking land for the school. The price agreed was that for which the land was professionally valued at the time. I had no involvement in the process.” He added: “Following the sale of the site, Carol was asked by the parish priest to sell an additional ¾ acre of land, as an add-on, to allow for the provision of a hurling pitch for the school. He explained that the parish would not be able to pay the market value for the land. She was happy to facilitate the school in this and therefore agreed to sell at below the market value.”

A spokesman for the OPW 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,” the 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.” The parish priest, Fr Ciarán Kitching, a member of the board of governors of Iomair’s national school, Killimor, could not be contacted and there was no comment from the school.

Galway County Council’s planning inquiry website shows an application in 2003 for a development in Garrynastillagh from Fr Kitching “for the construction of new school consisting of six . . . classrooms, general purpose room, liberary [sic], boiler room, ancillary accommodation, sewage connection to public sewer and all necessary site works and services”. The decision is described as “provisional”. The website also shows an application in 2010 for a development in Killimor from Iomair national school’s board of management “for the construction of a two-storey eight-classroom, support teaching spaces, ancillary accommadation [sic] with a total floor area of 1560sqm. . .” The decision is described as “provisional”.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said: “The department has no reason to consider that there was anything abnormal about the transaction concerned.”