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Does Denis O’Brien have permission for works on his Connemara Castle? – Ó Clochartaigh

6 May, 2015


Sinn Féin Senator, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh is calling on the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to investigate whether businessman Denis O’Brien has the relevant statutory permissions for works being undertaken on his Connemara castle.

The Galway West/South Mayo Senator says:

‘Works have recently begun on the castle on Ballynahinch lake in Connemara and locals are very concerned that the mediaeval castle and the local habitat may be damaged as a result. It is not clear whether or not the development has planning permission, whether the relevant environmental impact assessments have been done, whether the National Monuments Service & NPWS were properly informed, had given permission for works to go ahead and whether the appropriate archaeological studies had been done prior to works being undertaken.

‘This island was the seat of the Conmaicne Mara and the O’Caodhla before it was taken over by the O’Flaherty in the 12th century. The Martins were granted the land in the 17th century and an extension was erected by ‘Humanity’ Dick Martin to facilitate a gaol in the 18th century. For the past two years the estate, including circa 500 acres, Ballynahinch Castle Hotel and the mediaeval island castle is owned by Denis O’Brien.

‘Concerns have been raised since a scaffold was erected around the island castle in recent weeks and works appear to have begun on the ruins. Local historians, archaeologists and wildlife enthusiasts have expressed serious concerns about this development.

‘It is not clear whether planning permission for the work is necessary, has been sought, approved and what restrictions pertain to that. Galway County Council need to clarify this immediately.

‘It is not clear either whether the National Monuments Service have given their approval for the development and if so what safeguards were requested to maintain the integrity of the site.

‘It is understood that the castle is also in a Special Area of Conservation and that there are a number of protected habitats on the site. It is essential that National Parks and Wildlife service clarify whether the proper procedures have been followed in this development in relation to undertaking an environmental impact study and protecting the habitats in question.

‘Local Connemara residents are continually subject to restrictions on development in areas of environmental, archaeological and historical importance. There are fears that the same caution has not been taken on the development of the castle on Ballynahinch lake and I have written to the Ministers and relevant authorities to outline these concerns and I believe that the Ministers must investigate this as a matter of urgency, to ensure that this is not the case and if it is, to take steps to have the situation rectified as soon as possible.'

An bhfuil na ceadanna cuí ag Denis O’Brien do na h-oibreacha ar a Chaisleán i gConamara?– Ó Clochartaigh

Tá Seanadóir Shinn Féin, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh ag iarraidh ar an Aire Comhshaoil agus an tAire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta & Gaeltachta fiosrúchán a dhéanamh an bhfuil na ceadanna reachtúla cuí ag an bhfear gnó Denis O’Brien d’oibreacha atá ar bun air Chaisleán leis i gConamara.

Deir Seanadóir Ghaillimh Thiar/Muigh Eo Theas:

‘Tá oibreacha tosaithe le déanaí ar an gcaisleán ar Loch Bhaile na hInse i gConamara agus tá imní ar dhaoine áitiúla go bhféadfadh damáiste a bheith déanta don chaisleán meánaoiseach agus do ghnáthógaí áitiúla mar thoradh ar seo. Níl sé soiléir an bhfuil cead pleanála ag an bhforbairt, an bhfuil na tuairiscí tionchar timpeallachta cuí déanta, nó ar cuireadh an tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Séadchomharthaí agus an tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Páirceanna agus Fiadhúlra ar an eolas i gceart, ar tugadh ceadanna do na h-oibreacha agus ar déanadh na staidéir seandálaíochta ar fad is cóir a dhéanamh sular tosaíodh ar na h-oibreacha atá idir láimhe.

‘Ba é an oileán seo suíochán an Conmaicne Mara agus an Ó Caodhla sular ghlac na Flaitheartaigh seilbh ar sa 12ú aois. Tugadh an tsealúchais do na Máirtínigh san 17ú aois agus chuir ‘Humanity’ Dick Martin leis an bhfoirgneamh san 18ú aois chun príosún a dhéanamh as. Le dhá bhliain anuas tá an eastát, thart ar 500 acra talúna a théann leis agus an caisleán meánaoiseach ar an oileán i seilbh Denis O’Brien.

‘Tá imní léirithe mar gur cuireadh scafall thimpeall ar an gcaisleán le cúpla seachtain agus breathnaíonn sé go bhfuil oibreacha tosaithe ar an bhfothrach. Tá staraithe, seandálaithe agus lucht dúlra sa gceantar an-imníoch faoin bhforbairt seo.

‘Níl sé soiléir an bhfuil na ceadanna cuí do na h-oibreacha atá i gceist iarrtha, faighte agus cé na teorainn a bhaineann lena leithéid. Caithfidh Comhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe seo a shoiléiriú láithreach.

‘Níl sé soiléir ach an oiread ar thug Seirbhís na Séadchomharthaí Náisiúnta a gcead siúd don fhorbairt agus má thug, cé na cosaintí a lorgaíodh le sláine an tsuímh a chaomhnú.

‘Tuigtear chomh maith go bhfuil an chaisleán i Limistéir Speisialta Chaomhnaithe agus go bhfuil roinnt gnáthóga caomhnaithe ar an tsuíomh freisin. Tá sé riachtanach go ndéanfaidh an tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Páirceanna agus Fiadhúlra soiléiriú ar leanadh na nósanna imeachta cuí ar fad maidir le staidéar tionchar timpeallachta a dhéanamh agus na gnáthóga atá i gceist a chosaint.

‘Tá áitritheoirí áitiúla i gConamara faoi chuing go minic ag rialacha forbartha i gceantair a bhfuil tábhacht faoi leith seandálaíochta, staire agus comhshaoil ag baint leo. Tá imní ann nár glacadh an cúram céanna ar fhorbairt an chaisleán ar loch Bhaile na hInse agus tá scríofa agam chuig na hAirí agus na h-eagrais reachtúla cuí agus creidim gur chóir do na hAirí seo a fhiosrú ar bhonn práinne le deimhniú nach amhlaidh atá, ach más ea, céimeanna a ghlacadh láithreach leis an gcás a chuir ina cheart chomh luath agus is féidir.'

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