Controversy in Mayo over demands for ground rent on lands owned by the family of missing British aristocrat Lord Lucan.

Richard John Bingham 7th Earl of Lucan vanished without trace on the night of 8 November 1974 after the murder of the Bingham's nanny at their Belgravia residence in London.

Having come to Ireland during the Elizabethan era, the Binghams took possession of the lands of the De Burgo family in this part of County Mayo and by the nineteenth century resided in The Lawn house in the town, explains Sister Consilio Coyne from the Mayo Historical Society.

The emergence of the Irish Free State saw the Earls of Lucan withdraw from Ireland. While they sold off much of their property, they retained their ground rent entitlement on swathes of land in this part of County Mayo, as well as in and around Castlebar.

The issue of ground rent payment has recently raised its head again, as a number of remaining tenants are refusing to pay the rent to the family of the Earl of Lucan, or to the trust which now represents his family's interests.

Solicitor Michael Egan who represents the trust which manages the Lucan family business in Ireland maintains he has never had a problem collecting rent, but that a local county councillor is stirring up sentiments in Castlebar on the subject.

For his part, councillor Dick Morrin says his campaign to abolish such rents has been ongoing for many years,

To the Irish people ground rents are repugnant.

Fine Gael TD (Teachta Dála) Enda Kenny also supports the families in Castlebar who are refusing to pay, even though the amounts are small, as it boils down to,

The principle of paying ground rent to an absentee landlord.

Lucan Street in Castlebar is an inelegant reminder of the Bingham family links to the town. Mayo County Council workers who use one of the abandoned and dilapidated houses for tea breaks say that people are determined not to hand over any money,

How would you expect people to pay rent on these houses?

Another local TD Padraig Flynn would like to see the matter resolved once and for all, as

It's a hangover from another age and another era.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 5 July 1992. The reporter is Jim Fahy.