Pictured at the former shop site in Castledaly in early 2023 were from left to right, Tom Stone, Castledaly GAA, Cllr John Dolan, Jennifer Claffey, Castledaly Tidy Towns, Enda Kelly, Castledaly GAA, and Darren Egan from Castledaly Tidy Towns.

Council set to progress CPO of tragic Castledaly shop site

Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) notices for the former shop and petrol station in Castledaly, the site of a tragic murder over 20 years ago, will be “issued in the coming weeks”.

The council confirmed the news recently following a question from local Cllr John Dolan at the April meeting of Athlone-Moate Municipal District, more than six months after the local authority announced plans to kickstart the CPO process in a bid to take the tragic site into their ownership.

“This matter is being advanced by the District Administrator and Notices will be issued in the coming weeks,” the written reply issued by the council this month stated in relation to the Castledaly CPO.

Back in November 2003, Gregory Fox (36) was jailed for life for murdering his wife Debbie, and two sons Trevor (9) and Killian (7) at the Castledaly site in 2001.

It was a horrific triple tragedy that rocked the local community and the surrounding areas to its very core, and the prominent premises in the village has lain vacant since then with various calls on the local authority over many, many years to do something with the site.

Fine Gael Cllr John Dolan, who has been leading the charge in recent times to have the council compulsorily purchase the site, said following the April council meeting that “he is happy enough it is progressing, albeit a bit slower than I thought”.

Hopeful of movement on the CPO process this year, the Kilgarvan farmer told the Westmeath Independent that the council is happy to engage with the local community in terms of the future use of the site.

There is great hope in Castledaly that via the Compulsory Purchase process, the council will acquire the premises, have it demolished and the site could be put to use by the local community in the years ahead.

Previous suggestions for the former shop and petrol station site included a community centre, car park or an extended GAA facility.

Whatever the future holds for the site, a memorial for Debbie, Trevor and Killian Fox will be included in the plans.

Back in May of 2023, Cllr Dolan received the unanimous backing of his council colleagues after a motion calling on the council to serve a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the old shop and to purchase the property for community use.

Director of Services Barry Kehoe now the Acting Chief Executive of Westmeath County Council, said at that time that the CPO process is only ever used as a last resort in terms of achieving particular council objectives, and the Chief Executive of the council is required to sign the order to initiate a CPO. The order is then sent to An Bord Pleanála and if submissions are received, it could take up to six months to finalise, but if there are no submissions it could be finalised quicker.