Monday 5 March 2007

Council anger at use of city square as tile showroom

AN INVESTIGATION is under way into whether a breach of planning regulations has taken place in Dartmouth Square after its controversial owner opened a portable tile showroom on the site.

It is the latest row involving Noel O'Gara who clashed with Dublin City Council and local residents last year after he tried to turn the square into a car park.

Now an emergency motion has been tabled to remove Mr O'Gara's latest business venture.

Local FF councillor Chris Andrews made his move at a meeting of Dublin City Council last night to deal with the "opportunist" he claims has invaded Dartmouth Square.

Mr O'Gara turned the two-acre park in the middle of the square into an outdoor store selling marble tiles for €50 a square metre.


It was a new turn in an acrimonious battle that began when Mr O'Gara bought the freehold on Dartmouth Square for less than €10,000 and tried to set up a car park there.

Last night, Councillor Andrews and his colleague Councillor Michael Donnelly put down a motion calling on the city manager to take immediate action to remove the 'so called show room'.

He said the park is being used as a 'portable showroom' for its owner's tile company.

The park was at the centre of a controversy last year when Mr O'Gara, Athlone, Co Westmeath, attempted to open a public car park there.

He claimed he purchased the square from the Darley family, who owned it since it first opened in the 19th century.

However, the land is zoned for open space and amenity.

The High Court granted Dublin City Council an order permanently restraining Mr O'Gara and a company, Marble and Granite Tiles Ltd, from parking more than two vehicles in it.

Since that decision, Mr O'Gara has has been fighting a compulsory purchase order by the council.

He has rejected the council's €100,000 offer for his two acres of parkland and claims his valuers have advised him the land is worth €175m.

"Mr O'Gara's constitutional right is at odds with his constitutional responsibility," added councillor Andrews.

"He is blatantly cherry picking from our constitution to suit his own ends. We cannot afford the little open space we have in Dublin South East to be exploited by an opportunist like Mr O'Gara." "It is very serious that he is challenging planning procedures in such a brazen manner." Mr O'Gara said he would sell his marble and granite tiles at the square "any day the weather is fine".

Anne-Marie Walsh
Irish Independent

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