'Unanswered questions' about alleged irregularities into Anne Street site

By Esther Hayden

Published 23/01/2016 | 00:00

The offices of the Department of Social Protection and Revenue Commissioners on Anne Street in Wexford. It is alleged that there are 'unanswered questions' about the assembly of the site.
The offices of the Department of Social Protection and Revenue Commissioners on Anne Street in Wexford. It is alleged that there are 'unanswered questions' about the assembly of the site.

'Serious unanswered questions' must be answered about the assembling of the site on which the Department of Social Protection and Revenue Commissioners now stand on Anne Street.

Speaking in the Dail last Wednesday Deputy Joe Higgins called on the Minister for the Environment to establish a commission of investigation into the involvement of public bodies in 'serious unanswered questions and anomalies surrounding the assembling of this site' in Anne Street.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was in the Dail when Deputy Higgins raised the issue with Minister of State Ann Phelan and Deputy Higgins called on him to take the matter seriously. 'It will be confirmed when it is examined, and you should not be found negligent by not assisting in seeking the answers that are badly needed in relation to this issue.'

Deputy Phelan said the first port of call for anyone with questions about the way the sites were assembled was Wexford County Council who has taken on the role of the former Borough Council. She said the Department of the Environment 'has no direct responsibility for or involvement in the assembly of land by local authorities for the purpose of the provision of offices for Government departments or other sites of the State' but said she would speak to the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly about the matter.

Deputy Higgins said documents he had seen were 'prima facie evidence of very serious irregularities'. He said 'Wexford Borough Council and the Office of Public Works (OPW) must disclose all the facts about this development and put them into the public domain' adding the irregularities had had a 'serious detrimental effect on the lives of innocent individuals' and were an 'injustice to them and their human rights'.

The Socialist TD said he did not raise instances of 'specific wrongdoing or irregularity' lightly, but said the nature of how the site was assembled, finishing in the late 1990s, had to be fully investigated saying he hadn't received any satisfactory answers from the council or the Revenue Commissioners.

Deputy Phelan said the OPW acquired two sites from Wexford Borough Council in the 1990s. One was acquired through an agreement with the council in May 1995, for IR£145,000 while the other was acquired from the council under an agreement of January 1997 in exchange for a site owned by the OPW in King Street.

'The site transferred to OPW has been assembled by Wexford Borough Council by compulsory purchase order', she said adding that the OPW had not been party to the assembly of these sites, which were bought directly from the borough council.

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