MAYOR OF Sligo Cllr Jimmy McGarry said yesterday that he had been subjected to “unprecedented hostility” in the county council chamber when he put down motions regarding the controversy over Lissadell House.
The owners of the historic house have initiated High Court proceedings against the council over the issue of public rights of way, and the case is due to be heard next month.
The former home of Countess Markievicz was closed to the public for several months this year because of the row, and is due to be closed again later this month. The mayor said that regardless of the outcome, “this conflict would go wrong for Sligo”.
In comments circulated to elected members – which he was not allowed to make at yesterday’s council meeting – Mr McGarry (Lab) said that if the council wins the court action, “Lissadell as we know it will be lost as a flagship tourism asset and employer”.
He said that if the council loses the case, the financial cost will be an estimated €2 million, and pointed out that the local authority has already had to cut 47 jobs this year as result of a budgetary shortfall of €2 million.
A row erupted at yesterday’s council meeting when the chairman, Cllr Gerry Murray, refused to allow the mayor’s motion seeking an update on the case.
The chairman said he had “legal advice” that the matter was sub judice, but when challenged on this he confirmed that the legal advice was not in writing.
When the meeting reconvened after lunch, the legal advice was available in writing and was circulated to members.
However, Mlr McGarry had argued that he had conflicting legal advice to the effect that his motion did not refer to the substantive issue before the court, and should therefore have been allowed.