O'Gara cutting clamps off cars in parking row
ROW: Claim from businessman at centre of Dartmouth controversy
MAVERICK businessman Noel O'Gara is engaged in a fresh row with Dublin City Council and the HSE over ownership of a Dublin car park.
The controversial figure has admitted to the Herald that he cut clamps off cars and covered over a pay and display machine in a south city parking lot.
He says that he holds the freehold lease to the parking area on Terenure Road North, but this is strongly disputed by the HSE who says it has "at all times" been the owner of the land.
Mr O'Gara came to national prominence five years ago when he claimed ownership of Dartmouth Square in Ranelagh.
The two parties are now in legal correspondence but Mr O'Gara has decided to take matters into his own hands.
"I brought up a lad from the country and put him in charge of it. I'm charging €1 for three hours and there will be no clamping," said the Athlone-based businessman.
The car park is leased by the HSE to Dublin City Council but Mr O'Gara intends blocking motorists from paying into the council's meters.
He told the Herald that it is up to the council to take him to court if they want.
"I have the freehold ownership of that land," he said, adding: "They had abandoned the land. That land was derelict and forgotten about for 40 years. Nobody knew who owned it.
"As the freehold owner of the land, imagine sitting in your car and some fella comes and says 'if you don't pay I'm going to clamp you'," he said.
It is understood that Mr O'Gara obtained the ground rents for the area for an undisclosed sum at a UK auction around 10 years ago.
However, a spokesperson for the HSE said that the health body is "aware of the recent assertions that have been made by Mr O'Gara in relation to the site".
In a statement, they said: "We confirm that HSE has at all times been and is the owner of the site and this has been clearly communicated to Mr O'Gara through HSE's solicitors."
Dublin City Council confirmed that they have a lease on the land that will expire at the end of the year.
"The lease on the car park expires in early December 2010. No decision has been made on renewing the lease after that date," said a spokesperson.
Local TD Chris Andrews said that the council needs to take immediate attack to resolve the issue.
"It failed on Dartmouth Square and now it's repeating itself," he said.
"I think Dublin City Council needs to identify other areas along with this and ensure these areas aren't causing an ongoing difficulties for communities."
The Fianna Fail representative added: "The council must clarify all their titles and ensure that community interests are protected."