Fianna Fáil Councillor Lisa Chambers lead the questioning of Opensparkz executives at last weeks County Council meeting. The Castlebar based Councillor had upwards of 20 questions covering the share structure of the company, its planned operations in Castlebar and Africa, the ethics of the project, potential jobs and the contract to be entered into with Mayo County Council.
“My main concern was to protect the Council’s asset, namely the Volex plant and ensure we conducted our due diligence before entering into any contractual relationship with this company. As an elected representative it is my job to ask the questions and ensure the interests of the people of Mayo are safe guarded.” says Chambers
“You will recall the events that lead to such intense scrutiny of Opensparks. There were questions over the company’s founder Declan Conway’s treatment of past investors in unrelated companies and then there was the remarkable u-turn An Taoiseach Enda Kenny took. He initially associated himself with the jobs announcement and then quickly distanced himself from it when issues arose around the project. This naturally raised the suspicions of local Councillors and I personally had been contacted by disgruntled investors.” continues Chambers
“I made it clear to the company representatives at last weeks meeting that there was nothing personal about my questioning, I was simply doing the job I was elected to do. Where representations are made to me I am under an obligation to raise them. They appreciated my position in this regard and I don’t believe they had any issue with answering my questions or the questions of other Councillors.” says Chambers
“I explained that it was not simply a case of recovering the money we spent on the Volex plant because clearly we were being offered more then we paid for it so financially there appeared to be no issue. I did however highlight the strategic importance of the building to Castlebar’s local economy given its location and size and the fact we have nothing else like in in Castlebar to cater for certain industries. It was in this context that we needed to ensure it remained in the correct use. I asked the company representatives if they would consider attaching a condition to the sale that if in the event the company were to vacate the building for what ever reason that the Council would be given first refusal to purchase at current market price.” continues Chambers
“I was delighted when the company representatives agreed to this and there was certainly a feeling of relief across the chamber. I am satisfied that the Council in this circumstance protected the Council’s interests and the interests of the people of Mayo and that we carried out our due diligence.” says Chambers