A number of local County Councillors have vented their frustration at the lack of communication from the Charities Regulator in relation to the sale of O’Modhrain Hall.
Members of the Kildare-Newbridge Municipal District agreed to write to the regulator to find out how the interests of the people of the town are being served in the sale.
The hall was sold at auction on July 26 2017 for €270,000. Vincent Byrne, of a company called O’Modhrain Hall Limited, wants to replace it with a new four storey building containing four shop units, two office units and six apartments. The council has sought further information on that application.
The sale has still to be approved by the Charities Regulator as the building was owned by a trust.
Cllr Joanne Pender raised the motion at the Kildare-Newbridge Municipal District meeting on January 16 last. Cllr Pender said clarity is needed on how the public interest is being served in relation to the Ó’Modhráin Hall on Cutlery Road.
She said there has been no communication from the Charities Regulator, and no attempts have been made to contact anyone in the community or council about what should be done with the building. She said there is animosity in the town about the really quick sale of Ó’Modhráin Hall.
Cllr Pender said she has no doubt that the person who bought the hall has done so in good faith. She said the Charities Regulator is not obliged to give a timeline for a response to queries, which she said is “unacceptable”. Cllr Pender said Ó’Modhráin Hall is in a prime location for future plans for Newbridge.
She said the trustees have failed to look at all the options available to them, and that they have not engaged with the beneficiaries or the Council. Cllr Mark Lynch said the Charities Regulator is under no obligation to come back to queries.
“There are major flaws with the way the Charities Regulator operates,” said Cllr Lynch. He said there is potential for a youth space there, and hopes the building can be saved.
Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy said if the Charities Regulator doesn’t respond to the query, the council should take it further, to the relevant Government department or minister.
Cllr McLoughlin Healy said it is “concerning” the regulator is not bound to come back to queries. She said it is disappointing a facility like the Ó’Modhráin Hall is not being pursued for the community.
Cllr Mark Stafford said he shares the disappointment with fellow members, but that the building was called to be put on the Derelict Sites Register, and discussions then centred on Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), so the “trustees were left with no choice”.
Cllr Sean Power said the hall is in very poor condition, and it would take substantial investment.
Director of Services, Joe Boland, said the council’s solicitor will look at all the issues raised.