A public meeting has been called in Belturbet to save the historic former cinema and dance hall building, the Erne Palais, from demolition.
A report carried in last week’s Anglo-Celt confirmed that the council had purchased the property for €85,000 and intended to demolish it to provide six social housing units.
The news sparked outrage among some members of the community who have since launched a campaign to save the landmark building.
A meeting has been called for next Tuesday, May 15, and will take place at the Town Hall and Civic Centre from 8pm.
The council’s proposal is subject to approval by the Department of Housing & Local Government. The Celt understands that, if sanctioned, the Department will pay all costs associated with the proposed works, including the safe disposal of the asbestos roofing.
There is concern, should the Council not succeed in using the site for housing, that the authority may have to repay the Department the full cost of the funding attained.
The purchase was listed in the county manager’s orders as approved at the recent monthly meeting of elected members to Cavan County Council.
Built 1947, the Palais served as a cinema before it was purchased in 1963 by brothers Tom and Michael Corrigan, who turned it into one of the region’s premiere dance halls. The corner site, located on the junction between Holborn Hill and Barrack Lane, in later years served as home to Erne Tool and Die company, as well as a popular community centre.
The unique facade, with its curved gabled-front, also served as backdrop in a scene for the film adaptation of Shane Connaughton’s book, ‘The Run of the Country’.
In more recent years, the property changed hands several times and was subject to several applications for planning – none of which proceeded.
The Palais failed to find a buyer when put on the market in 2005 and confusion reigned over its ownership in 2015 when the property was boarded up after reports of anti-social behaviour.
The protest meeting is set to take place hours after members of the Cavan-Belturbet Municipal District Meeting hold their own scheduled meeting, at which the future plans for the Palais will feature on the agenda.
“As a councillor, I am always anxious to take on board any concerns members of the public may have regarding any such matter,” said Fianna Fáil’s John Paul Feeley, who raised the matter with the Council Executive at the recent monthly meeting.
He added: “The decision to acquire property is an executive function and not one that elected members have a say in. The funding for the old Palais building was provided entirely by Department of Housing. If, for any reason, the council does not decide to use it for that purpose, then the local authority will have to reimburse the department."