A disability charity due to be evicted from Hillsborough Castle has complained that the organisation set to take over running the property has failed to forward proposals that would allow it to remain.
Praxis chief executive Nevin Ringland made the appeal through the News Letter on Friday, however Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), which will take over the running of Hillsborough Castle from next month, responded that it does not have any proposals but will engage in private talks.
The controversy is the latest twist in the row between Praxis and the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) over the charity’s tenancy at Hillsborough Castle. Praxis occupies some five of the 100 acres of the grounds.
The charity says it had a 10-year lease and had indications that this would be renewed. However, a review of properties by the Treasury concluded that more revenue needed to be earned and this has led to the NIO asking it to leave to make way for development.
This led to a public debate with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and public protests in support of the charity.
Mr Ringland told the News Letter last night that Ms Villiers told him on Tuesday last week that HRP wanted to talk about incorporating Praxis and its 16 clients into its plans.
“But there has not been any answer a week later and they have not been in touch,” he said. “We are at a loss as to why they have not been in touch. I emailed their chief executive on Monday to ask for their proposals and have not even had an acknowledgement.”
However, a spokeswoman for charity HRP responded that it was “just not true” that Ms Villiers had said they would be in touch about proposals.
“Our chief executive said that he got the email from Praxis on Wednesday, not Monday, and that he will respond by Friday [March 14] by the latest,” she said.
“He will be responding that he is open to discussion, but in private.”