'Stonehenge' on Achill must be removed as court order lifted

 

THE STONEHENGE-like structure built last November on Achill Island is to be taken down after the High Court yesterday lifted a stay on an earlier demolition order.

Dubbed “Achill-henge” by locals, the circular concrete structure was erected by property developer Joe McNamara on a scenic hilltop overlooking the village of Pollagh, despite attempts by Mayo County Council to halt the work.

The Connacht-based property developer previously drew attention when he drove a concrete lorry into the gates of Leinster House in Dublin in protest at the activities of Anglo Irish Bank.

That move earned him the nickname of “Anglo Avenger”. He was later acquitted on charges of dangerous driving and criminal damage.

Mayo County Council yesterday warned that the structure must be demolished “or there will be serious consequences”.

County secretary John Conden said that in the first instance Mr McNamara would be required to demolish the structure. Failing this, the council would carry out the work and apply for its costs.

The council first brought High Court proceedings against Mr McNamara after he failed to obey a notice requiring him to cease work on the unauthorised structure. He was subsequently jailed for contempt of a court order requiring he cease the work, but was released after three days.

Mr McNamara then referred the issue to An Bord Pleanála asking for a determination that the structure, which he said was “a place for reflection”, was exempt from development. He argued it was an ornamental garden on agricultural lands.

In March, the High Court put a stay on an order requiring the structure to be demolished pending the outcome of the An Bord Pleanála appeal.

In its submission to the planning authority, the council contended not only was it not an exempt development, but it had been built close to a protected archaeological site – an EU-designated special area of conservation.

This week, An Bord Pleanála ruled against Mr McNamara and found the structure did in fact require planning permission.

Mr Justice BrianMcGovern said that in those circumstances, he was lifting the stay on the High Court orders requiring the structure to be demolished and the site restored to its original state, under the supervision of an ecologist and an archaeologist.

Attempts to contact Mr McNamara yesterday were not successful.