Labour Euro election candidate, Lorraine Higgins, has criticised the Office of Public Works for blocking full public access to Castletown Demesne as an attempt to dilute local residents’ right of way to the historic house and grounds that were once the home of the Guinness family.
She has called on the OPW to meaningfully engage with the Castletown Right of Way Group.
Earlier this year,the Labour party has asked a group of legal people to check out the competing claims over rights of way.
“People have a clear entitlement to a right of way if they have been using a path or a way for a long period of time. Residents in Celbridge regularly use the grounds as a local walk, a cycle path or popular running track; it is part and parcel of the local community and the Castletown Right of Way Group are committed to keeping the 24-hour right of way. The limitation on opening hours marks a dilution of people’s access to the grounds and their right of way and I commend the Group for standing up to the strong arm of the state on this issue,” she said.
Ms. Higgins, a barrister by profession, said this fight has been going on a number of years and residents have raised very serious concerns at the level of engagement by the OPW and the refusal to acknowledge the very clear right of way that is visible on local maps and has been established over a long number of years.
The OPW has denied there is a legal right of way and that it’s aim is to protest the property for the people of Ireland.
Ms. Higgins said this is not a debate about managing anti-social behaviour at Castletown. “It is about protecting a right of way that grants local residents access through the grounds, and ensuring the house and surrounding gardens remain accessible to local residents in Celbridge and the surrounding areas for years to come.
Ms. Higgins concluded:“I am calling on the OPW to meaningfully engage with the Castletown Right of Way Group and to seriously consider the concerns of local residents.”