Sligo council calls on Government to pay Lissadell bill

Council paid own costs in right-of-way case and was directed to pay 75% of owners’ costs

Lissadell House in Sligo: the council has already paid its own legal bill of €2 million but has been directed by the Supreme Court to pay 75 per cent of the owners’ costs, estimated at between €6 million to €8 million

Lissadell House in Sligo: the council has already paid its own legal bill of €2 million but has been directed by the Supreme Court to pay 75 per cent of the owners’ costs, estimated at between €6 million to €8 million

 

Sligo County Council has unanimously passed a motion calling on the Government to pay its share of the legal costs of the owners of Lissadell House in the right-of-way case.

The council has already paid its own legal bill of €2 million but has been directed by the Supreme Court to pay 75 per cent of the owners’ costs.

Proposing the motion, Fianna Fáil’s Tom MacSharry said it would be “immoral” and unjust to expect the local authority to foot the bill. He said the costs had been estimated at anything from €6 million to €8 million, and 61 per cent of every million would return to the Exchequer in VAT, income tax, PRSI and USC.

Fine Gael councillor Hubert Keaney branded that argument as childish, saying “it will make us look like idiots”.

The owners of the estate, Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy, said Cllr MacSharry “would be much better employed” directing his concerns at former Fine Gael councillor Joe Leonard who proposed the initial motion on rights of way, and former county manager Hubert Kearns.

“This would be a much fairer solution for the Sligo ratepayers and the taxpayer, and also for the current council and the new chief executive officer who have inherited this liability,” the owners said.

In a statement, Mr Walsh and Ms Cassidy said Mr MacSharry had not contacted them before Monday’s meeting .

“We also note that Mr MacSharry did not seek Government assistance when Sligo County Council paid in the region of €2 million to its own lawyers towards their legal costs in this litigation,” they added.

Cllr MacSharry said he believed the timing of his motion was appropriate given that the council was involved in delicate negotiations with the Department of Environment on its finances.

He said his party would not agree to any increase in property tax or commercial rates.

Councillors unanimously agreed his motion that central Government should pay the costs, but only after deleting references to 61 per cent of the amount being comprised of taxes which would return to the Exchequer.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly told the Dáil last month that Sligo’s long-term debt was more than €120 million and that its revenue deficit was over €26 million.