Sunday 14 December 2008

Council intent on taking park owner down a peg

NOEL O'Gara, the controversial owner of Dartmouth Square in south Dublin, is to face yet another court battle this week over the future residence of his personal 'gardener' in the park.

Dublin City Council is to seek the removal of a tent from the square but O'Gara will argue that the man living there is his gardener and caretaker.

O'Gara was issued with a summons late last month stating that he had failed to adhere to a legal request to remove all unauthorised tents in situ for habitation purposes.

It also requests that "no further tents, caravans or any other structure for the purposes of habitual accommodation be erected in the park in the future in the absence of a prior grant of planning permission."

Michael O'Connor (57) has been resident in the park for over a year and O'Gara will claim that he has been given the responsibility of caretaking duties. O'Connor's brother also resides in the tent.

He will claim that under Section 4 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 he is exempt from normal planning regulations regarding residential accommodation.

Due to defend himself in the District Court this Thursday, O'Gara will quote part of the Act which outlines the exemption from planning permission for any "development consisting of the use of any land for the purpose of agriculture and development consisting of the use for that purpose of any building occupied together with land so used."

O'Gara has argued that in this respect, O'Connor is entitled to reside in the park which he intends to use for some form of agricultural purpose in the near future.

This week's action will be the fourth such case against the businessman who has so far been ordered to remove parking facilities, a tile business and a caravan from the site.

A number of other tents that had been housing people in the park were removed at the request of O'Connor.

O'Gara will tell the court that Dublin City Council, who lost the land as a result of "negligence", have pursued a "relentless campaign" against him since he purchased it in 2005 for about €10,000. The council declined to comment in the run-up to the court action.

O'Gara will also argue that he is set to provide O'Connor with more substantial accommodation in the spring in order to facilitate his work as a caretaker, gardener and agricultural worker on the two acre plot of land which he now deems "farmland".

O'Connor is in situ with the permission of O'Gara, who claims that he has not broken any laws nor has he caused any disturbance to those residents surrounding the park.

Since purchasing the park O'Gara has claimed that he has been prevented from exercising his rights as a landowner.

"I am telling you and I will be telling the judge that these planners are the same ones who planned Ballymun (in Dublin) and Moyross and South Hill (both in Limerick)," he told the Sunday Tribune.

"These planning laws have destroyed the ordinary Irishman and taken his rights away from him. This is against the memory of the people who gave their lives for our freedom only to hand it back to a bunch of bureaucrats. They are all part of the system with their noses in the trough."

Sunday Tribune

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