A LIMERICK property developer yesterday dismissed claims by Junior Health Minister Tim O’Malley that new apartments built by him do not qualify for tax breaks due to mapping irregularities.
The site on which the apartments were built was at the centre of major controversy and Mr O’Malley had previously demanded an investigation into how the developer, Reidy Civil Engineering Ltd, had acquired it.
The site was part of the People’s Park, and contained maintenance sheds.
Minister O’Malley now claims that zoning maps in the current City Development Plan do not match site maps and maps from Ordnance Survey.
Mr O’Malley said he had also got engineers to scrutinise the maps.
He said: “It was only by blowing up maps that we could find out that there was a problem with the maps that were sent up to the department for tax designation. I pointed out this to the City Council to be told that it was a mapping error. A mapping error of nearly half an acre in the centre of Limerick City is a significant error.”
Mr O’Malley said up to 70% of the 59 apartments are on land zoned as open space.
He said investors bought the €250,000 apartments believing they were eligible for 100% tax relief offset against rental income.
However, John Reidy yesterday hit back saying that Mr O’Malley had waged an ongoing campaign against the development and was now clutching at straws.
Mr Reidy said all maps were correct.
He said: “I can’t understand where he (O’Malley) is coming from. He is just blatantly incorrect. There is no doubt about the integrity of the maps. I am extremely and personally hurt at this attack by Mr O’Malley. He has hurt me and my family and what he says is completely at variance with the facts.”
Following earlier allegations by Mr O’Malley relating to his purchase of the 0.44 acre site from Limerick City Council, Mr Reidy said the Department of the Environment had carried out an investigation and found everything was above board.
Mr Reidy said: “The minister is now bringing up issues about mapping now that all other issues he has raised have been put to bed long ago. He was wrong all along and is wrong now. His statement is irresponsible.”
Lawyers acting for purchasers, he said, had gone through the maps and found them to be in order.
Mr Reidy said he had no problem having an independent engineer inspect the maps.
Prior to the apartments being built, Mr O’Malley had called for an investigation into the manner in which the council sold the site to a developer without putting it out to public tender.
The council acquired the freehold of the 0.44 acre site which houses the park maintenance sheds from Lord Limerick for 150,000 and resold the same plot for €1.57 million to Reidy Civil Engineering.
The land in question was held in trust and covered by a 500-year lease entered by the Earl of Limerick, The People’s Park Trustees and Limerick Corporation in the 19th century.
The sale of the 0.44 acre site to Reidy Civil Engineering was formally completed in early 2005.
Mr Reidy said the entire process was open and transparent.
He said: “The agreement by Limerick City Council to dispose of the portion of the site now already owned by Reidy Civil Engineering to facilitate the development is a matter of public record and the valuation was established by public tender.”