Further detail on the Gilmore’s school sale

Eamon Gilmore with Gary Honer and Rory Geraghty
Image by Labour Youth via Flickr

I had a gander at the Galway planning enquiry site* and it would appear from what is there that the land in question had prior conditional planning permission reference no. 03222 granted for a 6 room school back in 2003 long before the actual sale took place. This is different to the more recent application of this year reference 10383 which involved an 8 room school. The 2003 applicant is listed as Ciaran Kitching (who appears to be the Parish Priest for Killimor), and the townload is listed Garrynastillagh as opposed in 2010 when it was the Board of Management Iomair National School, and in Killimor but the GIS places the two applications at the same site.

Which prompts the following questions in my mind, when was the advertising stage that Eamon Gilmore refers to actually done, was before that planning application in 2003 or before the sale in 2006? And who was the owner at the time of the first application, was it Gilmore’s wife or her parents? Was an agreement made in principle prior to 2003 but then revisited (and if so what was the price and why did it fail) before being sold  later on at a higher price? Was the sale stalled after planning was granted in order to obtain a higher price later?

The thing about someone else getting planning permission on your land before you sell to them is that if you back out of the sale, there then exists a precedent granting a development of that size and scale on the land. Hence, you could more easily apply for an equivalent sized development, say a two storey apartment development or offices. The granting of Planning permission raises the price of land. So if the first application caused the price to raise was that considered when making that application? It would seem odd for the applicant and hence the one forking over the cash to act in a manner that would cost them more money. There again it was the state/ taxpayer that appears to be on the hook for the purchase price so did anyone involved really care?

The political problem here is that if you’re the beneficiary of a type of behaviour that you then seek to make hay in your career out by criticising then you’re a hypocrite, pure and simple. That is Gilmore’s problem in a nutshell, he is criticising behaviour in the property boom that he and his own have benefited from. In other countries this would considered a major political problem and would demand a full and frank disclosure.

The other problem is whether Eamon Gilmore erred in not declaring this in his members interests, the interwebs were full of those commenting on Ivor Callely’s failures to declare property that was in his wife’s name. Fact is that to the best of my knowledge community property operates as regards what you should declare to SIPO.

* to use the site, you have to use Internet Explorer and also install the ActiveX autodesk plug-in to view the application details, maps etc.

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3 Responses to Further detail on the Gilmore’s school sale

  1. Matthew Wall says:

    Seems to me that this is part of a concerted media attack on Gilmore – like the ‘Sinn Fein roots’ story by Noel Whelan last week. The different levels of activities that qualify as a ‘scandal’ accross the parties mystify me – this is a political hatchet job, plain and simple.

  2. dsullivan says:

    I’m not sure how coordinated this all is, but what somewhat surprising is that the presumption on Labour’s part is that we should all just look away instead of asking fairly straightforward questions about a property sale involving public money. Christ knows if this was a FF minister the opposition would be all over this like a rash.

    The sale of the property itself doesn’t to my mind present any ethical problems for Gilmore, but it does raise political problems is that he has repeatedly made hay with the idea that anyone who sold property during the boom was a speculator and practically an exploiter of the masses. And now it turns out to be his wife making a few bob and it’s all ok.

    The one potential ethic problem but it might not arise is whether this was declared in his submission to SIPO of member’s interests. It would appear it wasn’t but it is also possible that the ownership was only transitory. There is a lot of detail absent from this story and it could all be cleared up with a full disclosure of the facts.

  3. Matthew Wall says:

    Would an FF Minister’s wife’s business activity really get the same level of coverage? Somehow I can’t see that happening.

    Of course, the really fair and useful approach would be to look at the property speculation activities of all members of the Dail/Oireachtas, to get a sense of the depth of the issue and to identify outliers.

    That, though, would require a totally different approach to story construction and presentation than we have become used to (though Ken Foxe has developed this approach on expenses).

    Politically, you’re probably right in that the story could serve to delegitimize Gilmore’s positions on the property bubble, using the classic political trick of argumentum ad hominem.

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