[Sinn Fein]

23ú Deireadh Fómhair 2001

Shirley 'Rents' must be abolished

Sinn Fein Councillors Matt Carthy and Noel Keelan joined other South Monaghan elected representatives and Shirley tenents at a meeting with officials from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to discuss the leasehold situation that exists on the Western side of Carrickmacross main Street.

Almost the entire business and resident population of one side of Carrickmacross main street are forced to pay crippling 'Ground Rents' and occupational leases to an absentee British Landlord - "Lord" Shirley.

The meeting took place on Monday afternoon in the Department offices in Dublin. In a joint statement afterwards Councillors Carthy and Keelan said:

"We attended Monday's meeting to inform the Department of Justice that the people of Carrickmacross expect the Government to stand by the people who have been affected by the Shirley leaseholds. Our position is that the government have the primary responsibility to tackle the Shirley situation head on.

"We were disappointed that the officials were not fully aware of the unique situation in Carrickmacross in relation to Ground Rents and occupational leases that cause so much anxiety to those directly affected by them. However, we are satisfied that the officials are now in a clearer position and perhaps acknowledge the importance that almost everybody in South Monaghan considers this issue."

Representatives from all parties attended the meeting and the Sinn Fein Councillors expressed satisfaction that each and every one of them stood shoulder to shoulder in the common interest.

The statement continued:

"We will continue to support the Shirley Tenents Action Group (STAG) during their legal proceedings and beyond. Our TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has been briefed on the meeting and has also expressed his support.

"We are of the firm opinion that the Department must offer any assistance necessary to support the tenents during the current legal actions. In the long term we also believe that it will take government action to see this issue dealt with once and for all.

"If, and we are extremely hopeful, the tenents fighting the current battle are successful, great work will remain to adequately deal with other tenents who do not benifit from existing legislation.

"Further legislation will be required at the very least. It is also probable that constitutional change may be necessary. So be it! The people of this state are often asked to vote in referenda to change the constitution, often on issues that don't affect the ordinary people. We are confident that if this matter was put to the people, their support would be forthcoming."

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