Councillors begin legal proceedings against Eddie Sheehy
TWO MEMBERS of Wicklow County Council have begun legal proceedings against County Manager Eddie Sheehy, alleging they were defamed in a row over the council’s purchase of a €3 million housing site.
Councillors Barry Nevin and Tommy Cullen initiated the legal action which began on Monday at Wicklow Circuit Court.
In 2011 the elected members of Wicklow County Council had to approve the borrowing of €3 million to purchase the 1.4022 hectares of land at Tree Trouts, Charlesland near Greystones.
A compulsory purchase order for the site was issued by Wicklow County Council in 2006 for social housing. However, an agreement over the price of the land couldn't be agreed. The matter went to arbitration and a final price of €3 million was reached in March 2011.
Cllr. Nevin, Cllr. Cullen and Cllr. Jimmy O’Shaughnessy had serious reservations over the purchase and complained to the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan and raised the issue at the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee.
Seamus Wolfe SC was appointed by Minister Hogan to investigate the deal.
In the report, Mr. Wolfe found that with effect from September 2006 the council remained legally committed to purchase the CPO land at Charlesland.
Speaking at the court on Monday, Cllr. Nevin said he was ‘shocked’ when the County Manager issued a press release in 2013 claiming that in effect the complaint had caused a delay in the land deal, which along with the investigation, cost the council €200,000.
Cllr. Nevin felt that the press release presented him as someone who had wasted council money and wasn’t fit to represent his constituents.
The hearing continues.