Sligo borough district councillors have agreed to allow gambling at two locations in the county — at Shore Road in Strandhill and at Ted Nealon Road in Sligo town.
The proposal was passed on the casting vote of Mayor Arthur Gibbons at this morning’s meeting of councillors from the Sligo Borough District.
It followed a tied vote on the proposal from Independent Socialist Councillor Declan Bree.
This morning’s vote by councillors from the Sligo Borough District is the culmination of debate that has been ongoing for some time.
The proposal had been adjourned on a number of occasions to allow submissions from the public.
This morning’s motion on the Borough District’s meeting agenda called for consideration of a report and submissions in relation to adopting Part III of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 in respect of Shore Road in Strandhill and Ted Nealon Road in Sligo town.
Councillor Bree proposed that the councillors adopt the proposal.
He pointed out it would curtail gaming to the two specific streets.
He acknowledged people had real and genuine concerns.
He said councillors took those concerns seriously and the response was to curtail gaming to these two locations.
He said they had submissions from people who were totally opposed to gaming and from others who were not.
Cllr Bree also said they had the odd conspiracy theory about big international gambling casinos coming to Sligo.
However, he said he never had any complaint about the two existing businesses at Ted Nealon Road and Shore Road in Strandhill.
Fianna Fail Councillor Tom MacSharry opposed adoption of the motion and he urged councillors to proceed with caution.
He said it could effectively turn Ted Nealon Road into a gambling location, and all of Shore Road could be opened up to gambling.
It said it was his opinion that if councillors adopted the motion, they were putting added value to all properties on Ted Nealon Road, with nothing to stop big arcade owners or businesses swallowing up properties there with a view to turning Ted Nealon Road into a gambling mecca in Sligo.
He also said he would have concerns about a possible legal challenge to the councillors’ adoption of the motion.
The mayor of Sligo, Sinn Fein Councillor Arthur Gibbons, said he had gone through all of the submissions.
He said some were genuine and some were scaremongering, with references to people in gaming premises being behind darkened windows.
He added he was not a gambling person; he didn’t even know how to back a horse.
But he said he did know gambling was a private thing, the same as when he went for a pint he didn’t want a person looking in.
He also said he thought it was a bit rich to hear a person on the radio who had a bar and off-licence talking about gambling.
Cllr Gibbons said nothing had done as much harm in society as alcohol.
He said there were 14 to 15 jobs involved here and one of the businesses was there for the past`15 years.
He asked why didn’t they look at bookies and see the damage they do.
In answer to a question, Cllr Gibbons was told that in the last 10 years, the county council received no applications for gambling.
He said there were genuine concerns but there were also submissions from people who would object to anything and were scaremongering.
In a vote, three councillors — Declan Bree, Gino O Boyle anbd Arthur Gibbons — voted in favour of the proposal.
Three other councillors — Tom MacSharry, Sinead Maguire and Rosaleen O Grady — voted against.
On the casting vote of Mayor Gibbons, the proposal was then passed.