Progress on development of Curragh in Kildare

Land management programme announced amidst criticism over delays

By Henry Bauress

Reporter:

By Henry Bauress

Email:

henry.bauress@leinsterleader.ie

Progress on development of  Curragh in Kildare

Kildare County Council HQ

KILDARE County Council has volunteered to do a vision paper on the future of the Curragh.

It has also emerged that a new lands management team for the Curragh has been established with a work programme for this year.

At the Council’s monthly meeting on January 29, chief executive, Peter Carey, said there was no one at the Council who had not the Curragh at heart.

Mr Carey said there was a need for a proper designation of areas and activity on the Curragh but he told councillors that the local authority did not own the land.

Mr Carey, who attended a meeting of the Curragh Forum, on January 12, also advised councillors that new primary legislation to change the situation at the Curragh would take years.

He said the Council would prepare a paper on the future of the Curragh and public submissions would be invited on that.

The chief executive said he sensed a willingness of all parties to make progress.

He also said the Defence Forces were anxious to progress the matter but they had their own responsibilities.

He was commenting following a debate on a motion by Cllrs Joanne Pender and Fiona McLoughlin Healy asking that “the  Council ask the Minister for Defence, in conjunction with the

Minister for Heritage and the Minister for Agriculture, to address the legislative barriers preventing interested parties from progressing a vision for the Curragh Plains

as a multifunctional recreational, cultural and heritage amenity for all of Kildare.”

A majority of councillors voted for the motion.

There  was criticism of the lack of progress by the Curragh Forum, which was set up in 2015.  Cllr McLoughlin-Healy said the Forum was “designed to fail.”

She also said that some users of the Curragh were damaging the area.

Cllr McLoughlin-Healy said it was “to their shame” (of the relevant authorities) that nothing had been done over 20 years after a Task Force had been set up on the Curragh.

She told the Council that no meeting of Forum had taken place in 2017.

Cllr Pender said the Curragh should be a “national heritage area” but legislation was stopping any progress on this.

She did not believe that the Department of Defence will be the driver of any change.

Cllr Pender said legislation for the Curragh, passed in the 1960’s, was not fit for purpose.

Cllr Seamie Moore said that over 2,500 year ago, the Curragh was Kildare’s Croke Park with  Finn McCool and his chariots using it.

Cllr Mark Stafford recommended that Mr Carey be tasked with setting out a vision for the Curragh.

Earlier, members welcomed the assertion by Kildare Failte chairman, Dr Tony Lenehan, that the tourism body was interested in developing the Curragh.

In a separate statement, Kildare South TD, Martin Heydon he has been told by Minister for Defence, Paul Keogh, that progress has been made by the Curragh Forum which heard a new lands management team is to be put in place in 2018 to oversee all activities on the ground.

 Deputy Hayden said their duties will include litter, sheep branding, patrolling, monitoring users of lands, inspection of property boundaries, engagement with the public, and a proposed new role of engaging in education and outreach.

A new environmental maintenance contract will also be sent to tender shortly.

Deputy Hayden said other issues discussed at the meeting included legislation, traffic, signage and parking issues, illegal encampments, sheep grazing rights, and the ongoing land management and maintenance of the Curragh Plains.  A work-programme was established for 2018 dealing with the areas under discussion and will be supplemented by new issues arising.

Deputy Hayden said he will working closely with County Council officials as they work in conjunction with Kildare Failte to produce a vision document for the Curragh Plains.