Parish closes Balgaddy Garden

by Ian Begley

After widespread protest, the South Lucan Pastoral Council have closed the Balgaddy Community Garden, with confusion building as to whether they have the legal right to do so.
A sign was erected in the garden on June 29 which stated: “These lands are private property. Access to these lands is prohibited by order of the owners.”
A new lock was then put onto the garden’s gate preventing anyone from entering the space.
Earlier this year, a dispute erupted over plans to turn the garden into a car park as part of an extension to the adjacent Balgaddy Resource Centre.
It has also been revealed that South Dublin County Council is the registered owner of the land that the community garden is on and not the parish, as previously believed.
Clondalkin Cllr Eoin O Broin (SF) has described the decision to close the garden as “deeply regrettable” and “potentially illegal”.
He said: “The land in question was subject to a Section 183 disposal by the council in 1997. When the elected members took that decision to transfer the land to the Laurence O’Toole Trust and the South Lucan Parish there were a number of conditions attached including the payment of £18,850.
“To date this money has not been paid and as a result the title deeds have not been transferred. This means that title for the lands is still held by the council.
“For the parish to now lock the volunteers out of the community garden on two separate occasions and serve them with a notice to quit on land which they the parish do not have formal title to is a step too far,” said Cllr O Broin.
Cllr O Broin went on to say that Fr Eamonn P Bourke, the parish priest who runs the centre, said that the matter was now with his solicitors and he would not reply to any more of his emails.
Balgaddy resident, Lorraine Hennessey from the Working Together group told The Gazette: “We have tonnes of plants, flowers and fruits growing in that garden, along with hundreds of euros worth of material there. It’s an awful shame for this to happen, but we will continue to fight for it.”
A council spokesperson commented on the parish’s actions to The Gazette, saying: “A S183 resolution to dispose of the lands in question was passed by the council in 1997, however, the formal transfer of the lands did not take place.
“The file was re-activated earlier this year at the request of the St Laurence O’Toole Diocesan Trust and our law department was instructed to complete the disposal as the resolution made in 1997 is still valid and contracts are signed.
“The council remains the legal title owner at this time but St Laurence O’Toole Diocesan Trust have an interest in the land.”
At the time of going to print the South Lucan Pastoral Council ha not responded to a request for comment.

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