Call for consultation before deal on college is made

NAAS, 4 August 2000: 8.30am by Brian Byrne. A call for consultation with parents, students and teachers before any deal is completed on the transfer of St Patrick’s Community College to another location in Naas has been made by the TUI representative at the College, Donal Corcoran. And he indicates that an earlier call for the teachers to be consulted has been ignored.

Earlier this week, KNN revealed that negotiations are close to completion on an offer by a Naas-based developer to build a new Community College ‘at no cost to the Exchequer’ on land his company owns at Oldtown Demesne, in return for being given the 4-acre site currently occupied by St Patrick’s Community School on the Newbridge Road.

The offer includes the donation of almost 10 acres at Oldtown for the new school, which would accommodate up to 500 students.

However, Mr Corcoran asks if developers are now deciding what educational facilities should be provided for Naas, and where they should be provided? “Where is the forward planning for this in the Naas Development Plan, in the Department of Education or in the Co Kildare Vocational Education Committee strategy for improving educational facilities in Naas?,” he asks in a letter to KNN today. “Where do the Educational Partners come into this, the students, parents and the teachers. Is this what they want?”

Mr Corcoran says space is not a problem for expanding the existing school, as agreement has been reached on the purchase of extra land beside the existing site.

The Department of Education has allocated £3.5 million for the refurbishment of the VEC-operated St Patrick’s, but a formal announcement on this has been put on hold pending the outcome of the current negotiations. The county’s VEC has instructed the school's Management Trustees to complete the negotiations, and this is likely before the end of September.

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Queries school 'swap' plans

NAAS, 4 August 2000: OPINION by Donal Corcoran, St Patrick's Community College TUI Representative. In relation to the proposal to hand over St. Patrick's Community College to a Developer in exchange for a site near Sallins, where is the forward planning for this in the Naas Development Plan, in the Department of Education, or in the Co Kildare Vocational Education Committee strategy for improving educational facilities in Naas? Or are we seeing developers now deciding on what educational facilities we should be getting in Naas and where these should be provided?

Where do the Educational Partners come into this, the students, parents and the teachers. Is this what they want? Has anybody consulted with them? Are there good educational reasons for moving the school from this area given that many of the students are within walking distance. This is the newest Second Level school in Naas. Why should there be a necessity to move to another site? Space is not a problem as agreement has been reached on the provision of extra land adjacent to the school. Would this happen with the other two second level schools in the town? I think not.

As School Representative for the Teacher's Union of Ireland in St Patrick's Community College I have called for consultation with Teachers before any decisions are taken. This has not happened to date. I now call for consultations with Parents and Students. And I ask that all decisions taken are taken for Educational reasons and not just to facilitate developers plans for our town.

ED: Please note that opinions expressed under 'OPINION' on KNN are those of the writer concerned, and do not necessarily reflect the views of KNN or its proprietors. This facility is provided in the interests of free speech and public information and may be availed of either to make a point or respond to one.

Sludge treatment plant for Silliott Hill

SILLIOTT HILL, 4 August 2000: by Trish Whelan. Kildare County Council is to build a sludge composting facility at its landfill at Silliot Hill (above) as a short term solution to the problem of dealing with sludge until a permanent facility can be built - most likely at Osberstown Treatment Plant outside Naas.

At Monday’s meeting of Kildare Council Council county engineer Jimmy Lynch (left) said this is a temporary measure for at maximum of three years, pending completion of the permanent facility which is part of the authority’s Sludge Management Plan.

To date some 9,000 tonnes of sewerage sludge has been disposed of at the Council’s landfill at Silliot Hill near Kilcullen, which is nearing capacity. Jimmy Lynch said the authority cannot in the short term continue to dispose of this sludge in an environmentally sound manner. “Sludge is deep buried by digging holes in the waste but this is no longer possible to make such holes because the landfill is almost full,” he said, hence the need for an interim solution until the permanent plant which will more than likely involve some sort of thermal treatment.

Mr Lynch said the product will be sterile and suitable for recycling on road embankments or at Silliot Hill itself.

Cllr Mary Glennon said she is unable to open the windows of her home at Kilcullen Road in Naas because of a bad smell coming from Silliot Hill, a few miles down the road. She asked if the interim facility would get rid of the smell and was told it would because the sludge composting facility would be entirely enclosed.

Mr Lynch said the sludge will be transported to the facility in sealed containers. He said the temporary facility would be built on the site of a house currently owned by Kildare County Council immediately adjoining Silliot Hill.

The house was purchased by the Council from a family who were severely affected by the landfill use of the Silliot Hill facility.

£2 million to be spent on station

MONASTEREVIN, 4 August 2000: by Brian Byrne. Up to £2 million will have to be spent on Monasterevin Railway Station to provide new platforms, a footbridge and lifts, a station building and a car park. This has been established following a visit to the site of the old station, due to be reopened next year, by Iarnrod Eireann’s Railway Inspection Officer and the company’s Manager of Safety last week.

According to company managing director Joe Meagher, the new station will be complete by the middle of next year, ‘provided there are no unforseen delays’. He was replying to a query from Deputy Sean Power.

The reopening of the station follows a long campaign by local people.

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'Put pocket where mouth is' call

NAAS, 4 August 2000: by Brian Byrne. The Government should ‘put its pocket where its mouth is’ and make the lands at Devoy Barracks in Naas available for social and affordable housing. That’s the view of Deputy Emmet Stagg (left) who has come out in support of a recent motion to this effect by Naas UDC councillor Pat McCarthy. “The Government is awash with taxpayer’s money and therefore does not need the proceeds of a speculative land sale,” Deputy Stagg said this week.

In a statement, he says the minister for the environment has long insisted that provision be made for ‘affordable housing’ and that he has introduced legislation to make this a reality. “But in the Naas Barracks situation there is no need for legal changes to implement his policy - the land is already in the ownership of his Government. It would be simply unbelievable if the Government were now to enter the land speculation market in face of 350 families on the housing list in Naas, and hundreds of other young families who are excluded from the housing market by the high profits of land speculators.”

A recent public tender procress failed to realise an expectation in excess of £7 million for the minister. The property, which was rezoned by Naas UDC for housing last year, is now up for private treaty sale.


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Supports Devoy proposal for affordable/social housing

NAAS, 4 August 2000: OPINION by John Kavanagh, 52, Kingsfurze, Naas. At recent UDC meetings I have been hearing a lot about the lack of a land bank for the development of social housing for the 256 (or so) people from the area who are applications on the UDC housing list. I also in my early a.m walks see people sleeping on the street and read reports of families existing through the day in cars when ousted from their Health Board-provided B&B's.

An ideal site already in state hands is the old barracks on the Newbridge road. Previously Cllr McCarthy had proposed a motion calling for the UDC to bid for the site. Despite being passed by the council, this bid apparently did not go forward.

In the last meeting of the UDC the chairman raised the point that he did not see why the UDC should have to buy the lands from the Department of the Defence. Both are funded are by the taxpayer. Surely the land should just be passed from one to the other? This point makes sense, keeping the people’s assets in the hands of the people and making them available for the benefit of the people that need help. The chairman was aware of another instance in Cork where this had occurred.

The alternative is for the Department of Defence to sell the land to a private individual and the UDC to put in for a grant to buy land to meet its needs. The winner in this case is the private sector at the expense of the people of Naas and environs who need help.

It appears that the sale by tender of the barracks site was not successful. I wonder would the way be now open to start again to get the UDC to procure this site either by (a) purchase (b) lobby the DofE to get the DofD to hand the site over to the UDC, using the arguments put forward by Cllr Mc Carthy, Cllr Egan, and the chairman at the last meeting? While I know the UDC is on recess, is there any way of getting them to make an offer or to lobby for support from central Government (when FF ministers get back from Galway).

Of course there is a previous motion down and accepted that the UDC should make an offer on the site. If the UDC did secure this site for social housing it would only be carrying out the mandate which was already agreed at a previous meeting. I see in your earlier report this week, Cllr Conway said with the way Naas is developing, the UDC is going to be ‘flush with money from rates ... our finances are absolutely secure’. Perhaps now is the time to go out and put in place much-needed community amenities such as well planned social housing and play areas, for the future of Naas children?

ED: Please note that opinions expressed under 'OPINION' on KNN are those of the writer concerned, and do not necessarily reflect the views of KNN or its proprietors. This facility is provided in the interests of free speech and public information and may be availed of either to make a point or respond to one.

****Earlier News from this week available here****

Around and About the County...

NAAS: The pedestrian crossing to be installed outside the Town Hall had not been erected - nor had pedestrian lights been installed at Murtagh’s Corner or the Newbridge Road, UDC chairman Pat O’Reilly told officials at a recent UDC meeting. He asked when the work would be done.

COUNTY HALL: Kildare County Council is to seek an extension of time until the end of June next year on the 1985 County Development Plan to facilitate completion of reviews of town plans for Kilcock, Clane, Maynooth, Kill, Celbridge and Castledermot. The plans will now go on public display for a period of 3 months.

CASTLEDERMOT: Kildare County Council is to seek tenders for the proposed new sewerage scheme for Castledermot, following the approval by the minister for the environment of contract documents for the project. Minister Dempsey also yesterday informed Deputy Sean Power that contract documents for the collection element of the scheme are being prepared separately and will be submitted soon.

MAYNOOTH: A request for ‘heavy duty’ pedestrian traffic lights to be installed at the entrance to Kingsbry Estate in Maynooth has been made following continuous vandalism to the existing lights. Cllr John McGinley put down a motion to this effect for the Area Meeting of councillors.

ATHY: A grant of £13,750 has been recommended for Athy Recreational Community Hall in the first round of disbursements under Kildare County Council’s Capital Grant for Recreational Purposes Programme 2000. The committee is spending a total of £27,500 on a number of improvements required mostly for health and safety reasons.

NAAS: Approaches should now be made to the GAA to have Naas UDC councillors included in any celebrations planned for the county football team if they win the Leinster Championship. Cllr Willie Callaghan said he did not want to see a recurrence of ‘the same haphazard situation’ that had occurred during the celebration night in Naas following their great win in 1998. He claimed Naas councillors had been snubbed on the night.

KILDARE GENERAL: A programme to be implemented by the Eastern Regional Health Authority will reduce waiting lists for orthodontic treatment from 10,000 to around 2,500, and change the time involved from up to seven years to a maximum of 12 months. The move has been welcomed by Deputy Emmet Stagg, who has long been making representations on the situation.

MONASTEREVIN: The Board of Management of St Paul's Secondary School Monasterevin say the School will re-open in September 2000 with full educational facilities for all students, writes Stephen O'Rourke. Discussions have taken place with senior personnel from the Department of Education to assess the situation following last week's explosion in the school and already a plan of action is underway. “The Board of Management would like to take this opportunity to thank the Gardai and Fire Brigade for their prompt response and assistance, which helped greatly to limit the damage to the school,” the board said in a statement. “We are also very grateful for the tremendous support received from many quarters.”

ATHY: I am looking for distant relations writes Barbara K Winterton (nee Mills). My grandfather was born in Athy in 1875 and had 3 brothers - Michael born 1857, Christopher born 1859 and John born 1872 - and two sisters - Mary born 1861 and Bridget born 1864. The family moved away from Grangemellon in 1895 but I have been unable to find out where they went. My grandfather, who moved to North Wales in 1916, never spoke of his family and it is only since I moved to Ireland that I have been able, with Kildare Heritage Group's help, to discover what we have. I would love to find living relatives in Kildare so if there are any Mills out there I can connect to I would love to hear from them.

****Earlier News from this week available here****

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Gardai to undertake 'major plan of action' against mobile merchants

NAAS, 2 August 2000: 1.30pm by Brian Byrne. A major plan of action is to be undertaken by Garda authorities immediately to deal with lawlessness by mobile merchants in Celbridge and throughout County Kildare.

This follows a meeting this morning between Deputy Emmet Stagg and Chief Superintendent Sean Feely of the Carlow/Kildare Division along with Superintendent Pat Mangan at Divisional Headquarters in Naas.

The plan to deal with the problem will include calling in ‘other agencies’ where necessary, and difficulties where local gardai do not have the resources to deal with the problem will be dealt with by providing whatever forces are necessary.

“The garda authorities were acutely aware of the problem,” Deputy Stagg told KNN this afternoon, emphasising again that he didn’t consider this a ‘traveller issue’ but one relating to lawless mobile merchants.

Deputy Stagg and fellow Cllr Senan Griffin had discussed the issue at Monday’s meeting of Kildare County Council. In that debate (see below) Deputy Stagg had maintained that existing legislation, if enforced, could solve the situation and that no new legislation was required.

He said he was very satisfied with the outcome of this morning’s meeting.

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Call for gardai to 'enforce law' in travellers 'invasions'

CELBRIDGE, 2 August 2000: 8.30am by Brian Byrne & Trish Whelan. The chief superintendent of the Carlow/Kildare Garda Division is to be asked to ensure gardai take ‘urgent and effective’ action against travellers who have left Celbridge resembling ‘a town awaiting an invasion’. Deputy Emmett Stagg (right) says the destruction of private and public property in the town by ‘mobile merchants’ and their families is ‘intolerable’ and he claims that gardai have failed to protect the rights of citizens or to protect public and private property from ‘well-orchestrated attacks’.

He also says that extortion has been ‘openly practised’ by these people, with residents and others being the subject of demands for large amounts of money to end their ‘invasions’ and stop destruction of property. "This happening under the gardai's noses, by people with their business mobile phone numbers displayed on their vehicles".

Deputy Stagg was responding to a call in Kildare County Council last Monday by Cllr Senan Griffin (left) that new legislation be enacted similar to that used in Britain, where no more than three caravans can travel in convoy, to deal with a situation that was ‘out of control’. He described it as a 'huge problem causing grief to a lot of people' and it was being carried out by people with high mobility who are non-indigenous caravan owners, moving from one part of the country to another'. "The majority are from outside this county, from the North of Ireland and from England," he said. "They have been illegally entering private and public property and creating huge problems for people financially. Some of these organisations cannot afford to be spending huge amounts of money on legal action."

Cllr Griffin said he wanted the ministers for the environment and justice to bring forward legislation similar to that in England. "I want it made impossible for groups of 80 to 90 caravans to drive into any property. In Celbridge, 86 were in a field this week. That's 400 people, and the hygiene problems alone must be very significant."

Cllr Griffin noted that the county council itself had been 'dragged' into having to go to the courts to have such people moved on. "We have asked people to move on up to 12 times in a year, which cost us £50,000, which could have been put to better purposes. The gardai know these people own their own homes in various places around the country."

Cllr Tony Lawlor said 'these migrants' knew that it cost £5,000 to get a court injunction. "They look for less than that from the owner to move on. It's a type of blackmail. We've had them on a regular basis in Kill and have almost become prisoners in our own town, having to erect banks to keep them out."

Deputy Stagg says no new legislation is needed, that ‘criminal damage, extracting money under threat, and using untaxed vehicles’ are all in the area of law that is enforceable by the gardai. “It is nonsense to suggest, as has been done by some garda authorities, that it is a civil matter and not their concern,” he said in a statement yesterday. “There are not two sets of laws operating in this state, but there ARE two standards being applied to the enforcement of the laws. In Celbridge, no effective action has been taken by gardai to bring the culprits to task or to take any action to put an end to the siege of Celbridge by this lawless band.”

Deputy Stagg says the recent damage done can most clearly be seen at the new St Woolston’s School, where litter and human waste abound and other damages run into ‘tens of thousands of pounds’. “If local youths were to attack the new school at St Woolston’s and damage it and the grounds to the extent I have witnessed, the gardai would be swift and effective in their response,” he said. “I presume the local gardai are acting on orders from their superiors. I am therefore seeking an urgent meeting with Chief Superintendent Sean Feely to request urgent and effective action by the gardai against this lawlessness.”

In his statement, Deputy Stagg makes a clear distinction between the activities of these ‘mobile merchants’ and travellers indigenous to Kildare or legitimately passing through Kildare. He is chairperson of the Travellers Settlement Committee of Kildare County Council. On Monday, the council signed a £1.4 million contract for the redevelopment of the Blacklion Halting Site at Maynooth. The project will result in eight four-bedroom houses and three halting bays.

[ED: The Celbridge problem is simply a reflection of similar ‘invasions’ and damage being perpetrated by travellers throughout Kildare, notably in Naas, Robertstown (above), Newbridge, the Curragh, Kilcullen and Leixlip. See KNN’s previous coverage here.]

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'Impound vehicles' call on latest travellers' incursion

NAAS, 2 August 2000: by Trish Whelan. Naas Cllr Willie Callaghan has hit out hard at last week’s invasion by travellers on UDC land at the Caragh Road (above). A large number of caravans and other vehicles were brought onto the site by travellers, some of whom have been recognised by local people as having been among those who illegally parked on Pairc na nOg in a previous incursion.

Cllr Callaghan says if they are the same people they should be pursued immediately for the £11,000 in legal and clean up costs incurred by the Council after the Pairc na nOg invasion. “If that means impounding their vehicles to pay off the debt, which the courts gave us permission to follow, I’d have no problems with that kind of action,” he told KNN.

“Those people caused an awful lot of damage the last time. I also heard that they tried to go back onto the Pairc na nOg site on Thursday but ended up on our land on the Caragh Road instead.”

There is also outrage amongst the users of the Caragh Road Sports Grounds through which the travellers gained access. And the residents association representing housing estates opposite the area have written to Naas UDC asking them to have them evicted from the site.

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'Buy St Davids for Naas' - councillor

NAAS, 2 August 2000: by Trish Whelan. Naas UDC should borrow money to buy St David’s Castle and grounds for the people of Naas. That’s the view of Cllr Timmy Conway (right) whose previous proposals for the UDC to buy the castle were discouraged by the town’s officials who said a survey had shown it was not suitable for use as a heritage centre.

Cllr Conway says the deal should be done now and not allow any other development on it. “I’m adamant we buy it and retain it as a castle and the two acres of grounds to be used as a pleasure park for the people to enjoy,” he said. “We’re in control of that site as it would require a material contravention to change its use so it would have a limited value to any developers interested.”

Cllr Conway also believes the UDC made ‘a bad mistake’ in not buying Market House (right) in the Harbour when it was on offer. “We could have extended the library into it and made it a centre for the people of the area. But the then town manager told me he wouldn’t buy it. That was a very big mistake - we should have bought it and I’m going to follow it through.”

Cllr Conway said with the way Naas is developing, the UDC is going to be flush with money from rates. “Our finances are absolutely secure so it’s vital we go out into the market and buy places like St David’s, Market House and the Convent building beside the Church, which could be used for the benefit of the community. Now is the time to buy them. If you let things drift they get dearer.”


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Dunstown wins power station vote, but is 'not secure'

COUNTY HALL, 1 August 2000: 8.30am by Trish Whelan & Brian Byrne. Protesters against the proposed Dunstown Wood power plant say they’re prepared to take their case ‘to the highest court in the land’ should An Bord Pleanala overturn yesterday’s Kildare County Council vote against the project. Councillors voted 14-6 against the material contravention of the County Development Plan for the Bord na Mona-led venture ... passing it would have required 18 members to vote for it.

“We’re very happy with the outcome, but I don’t feel secure yet,” local residents’ spokesman Padraig Berry (left) told KNN after he and other protesters had applauded the decision from the public gallery (above). “We are in a very strong moral position now for wherever is the next step ... the reality is, An Bord Pleanala will make its own decision.” (Audio here)

It is widely expected that the consortium seeking to build the plant will appeal the decision to ABP. And, while the campaigners against the project feel their case is strengthened because elected representatives voted against it, there’s no guarantee that the appeals board will take the same view.

“If necessary, we will take it to the highest court in the country to see that we have proper strategic development rather than the ‘expediency’ that seems the norm now,” Padraig Berry said.

Earlier, councillors arriving for the vote were met by placard-carrying residents of the Dunstown area (above), the last reminder in a campaign which had included a parade of horses through Naas on Saturday week last. During the debate on the matter in the council chamber, most councillors said they didn’t believe that the plant posed any dangers from emissions, and even a number of those who subsequently voted against it said such gas-powered facilities were ‘the way to go’ and ‘the cleanest possible’ sources of power generation. In the end, most votes against were on the basis of ‘inappropriate’ development for the area.

Deputy Emmet Stagg knocked the ‘dioxin’ fears on the head when he said that 50 kitchen ranges in Kildare’s local authority houses would create more dioxins than the proposed plant and he didn’t accept the arguments that ‘half the county would be poisoned and the food chain affected’. But he was voting against it purely on visual impact grounds.

Deputy Sean Power, on the other hand, suggested the facility would be a ‘monstrosity for a rural area’ and would also affect the county’s claim as ‘the thoroughbred county’ in horse industry terms. “If we’re serious about that, we should vote against it,” he said.

Cllr Michael Fitzpatrick (right), proposing the vote in favour of a material contravention, noted that Dunstown didn’t have a ‘culture’ of peat electricity generation like his own area of Allenwood, where it ‘would be welcomed with open arms’ if offered to his area. Seconding his proposal, Cllr P J Sheridan said he had seen a similar plant in Helsinki within 2.8 miles of a city of 50,000 where there were apparently ‘no ill effects’.

Cllr Senan Griffin noted that there was a similar plant in Poolbeg in Dublin and that if the health effects were as bad as the objectors made out, ‘half of Dublin would be dead’. “There’s a lot of nonsense written about emissions,” he said. “This type of plant is the cleanest possible.”

Cllr Rainsford Hendy, chairman, said he had come back from the recent fact-finding trip to Finland ‘convinced that this was the right way forward’ for power generation and that it was ‘absolutely safe’, but he was voting against it on visual impact grounds.

Cllr Billy Hillis (left), who had also travelled to Finland and to a similar plant in Norfolk, England, said there was no way that any landscaping could hide the plant. Cllr Hillis lives in view of Dunstown.

Those who voted for the material contravention sought by the county manager were Cllrs Geraldine Conway, Michael Fitzpatrick, Paul Kelly, Sean O Fearghaill, John O’Neill and P J Sheridan. Those voting against were Cllrs Fionnuala Dukes, Mary Glennon, Senan Griffin, Rainsford Hendy, Billy Hillis, Jim Keane, Tony Lawlor, Tony McEvoy, Catherine Murphy, Sean Power, Jim Reilly, Emmet Stagg, Jack Wall and Katherine Walsh.

Cllr Timmy Conway and Senator John Dardis were absent, and Cllr John McGinley abstained because of a ‘conflict of interest’ as a worker-director of the ESB.

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Property 'swap' deal will include 'free' college

NAAS, 1 August 2000: by Brian Byrne. A Naas-based developer has offered to build a new Community School ‘at no cost to the Exchequer’ on land his company owns at Oldtown Demesne, in return for being given the 4-acre site currently occupied by St Patrick’s Community School on the Newbridge Road (above).

The offer includes the donation of almost 10 acres at Oldtown for the new school, and is known to be very attractive to the Department of Education, which had previously allocated £3.5 million for the refurbishment of the VEC-operated St Patrick’s. The new school would accommodate up to 500 students.

Negotiations currently under way between the school authorities and the developer are known to be very well advanced, and the deal is likely to be concluded by September of this year. It will then be subject to confirmation by the Department after which material contraventions of the Naas Town Development Plan will be required to change the zoning of both locations.

There is some speculation that the developer proposes to offer Superquinn a site on the St Patrick’s Community School land on Newbridge Road. If true, this would make available a key piece of property right in the centre of Naas for further development, possibly apartments or townhouses, which would also require a material contravention of the Naas Development Plan.

At the last meeting of Naas UDC, Cllr Pat McCarthy said the authority should consider changing its policy of keeping all shopping developments in the centre of town. He was supported by the chairman, Cllr Pat O’Reilly. Superquinn, currently both partly the cause of and suffering from traffic congestion, tried last year to relocate to a site on the Dublin Road. This was disallowed by the town’s planners.

The Oldtown Demesne was acquired some time ago by Lehmex International Ltd, headed by Gerry Conlan. It has been the subject of some controversy over the company’s failure to fulfil a promise to relocate Naas GAA to a site on the property, a promise which helped to swing a rezoning of the demesne during the preparation of the development plan. A group of Naas UDC councillors are currently in negotiation with Lehmex on the GAA’s behalf.

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Kosovar display for Athy Library

ATHY, 1 August 2000: by Brian Byrne. A display of wall hangings by Kosovar and Kildare women to be put on display in Athy Library (above) from 8 August is the result of a project designed to help Kosovar refugee women located in Magee Barracks in Kildare to get to know each other and women from Kildare town.

The hangings include symbols and symbolism from both Kosovo and Kildare, and there are also a number from Kosovar children depicting landscapes from their country.

The project was funded by ASK and Kildare County Council and is supported by the Kildare Refugee Agency Centre. The hangings will eventually be put in the planned Kildare Heritage Centre, to be developed from the old Market House (below).


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Naas flooding is all mucky business

NAAS, 31 July 2000: 8.30am by Trish Whelan & Brian Byrne. A Naas Councillor took his shovel into his own hands last week to show how much of the regular flooding on the Ballymore Road occurs (above). And he says if drains were cleaned regularly, a lot of the problem would be taken care of.

“These drains look like they haven’t been cleaned since they were put in,” Cllr Charlie Byrne told KNN after he’d dug a load of muck and debris out of one drain, without still having reached the gravel base of the soakhole. “It took me ten minutes just to open the drain, not to mention digging out all this stuff. You could grow potatoes in it.”

Cllr Byrne said the drains in question had been designed at the time they were installed to take off a certain amount of flood water, and if they were kept clean by Kildare County Council, any flash flooding would disappear quickly.

At a recent meeting of Naas UDC, town engineer Tom Cuddy said gullies and pipes to deal with flooding in the area around Patrician Avenue would cost £20,000 ‘and further works may be required’. At that point Cllr Byrne asked ‘would they ever get someone with a shovel to clean out the shores?’ and threatened to do it himself.

Now he has come through on his threat and shown that the whole matter is a murky and mucky business. “I think it’s a case of reminding Kildare County Council ‘Don’t Forget your Shovel when you’re going to Work’,” quipped ‘the people’s councillor’, wiping the sweat of honest - and unpaid - toil from his brow.

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Council criticised over 'lack of openness' on dumping

THE CURRAGH, 31 July 2000: by Trish Whelan. Curragh resident Percy Podger has criticised Kildare County Council for not being more open about the recent dumping of top soil from Magee Barracks in Kildare town, in a pit behind the famous Donnelly’s Hollow (above).

Speaking after a meeting of concerned local people, including environmentalist Dr Ann Behan, with council officials at the location, he said ‘no meaningful consultation’ had taken place.

“We have been unable to find any written authority authorising this development,” he told KNN. “The officials did not show us any authorisation for the dumping, nor was a commitment given to a timeframe for addressing the problem other than to say they would ‘look into it’. They were notably silent and are keeping us in the dark.”

He said this reveals a ‘failure of the principles of transparency and openness’ of the Curragh authorities and the local authority decision-making process. “It also shows the exclusion of participation even by the people directly affected by these damaging activities,” he added. “It shows poor communication, lack of freedom of information, and obscuring of the facts. In the absence of any documentation authorising these activities, it is impossible to consider it as anything other than unauthorised development ... and illegal.”

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Subaru Legacy 2.5GX

Petition by Caragh residents over bridge and road works

Alan Hore and Ray Butler of the residents association - want a pedestrian bridge alongside Ploopluck Bridge behind them.
NAAS, 31 July 2000: by Brian Byrne. Residents of Caragh Court, Caragh Green and Caragh Meadows in Naas are raising a petition to have the UDC complete works on the road leading to the Ploopluck Bridge, and to go ahead with the provision of a pedestrian bridge over the canal.

In a letter to councillors and town officials, the residents association for the area says people are ‘extremely concerned’ about the safety to both motorists and pedestrians on road. They are particularly concerned about the acute danger to children who use the Ploopluck Bridge and Caragh Road on a daily basis to gain access to their homes and to the playing fields on the Caragh Road.

The letter says a ‘combination of issues’ have led to the dangerous situation, including non-completion of the footpath along the Caragh Road, inadequate road lighting at night, and the dangerous condition of the bridge both prior to and after the recent part demolition of the bridge structure by a motorist (below).

“We cannot wait any longer for the inevitable incident involving a pedestrian,” says association chairman Alan V Hore. “The council must take the lead and act now before the winter sets in. We understand that the council is proposing to put traffic lights on the bridge following a motion by Cllr Seamie Moore. We do NOT agree with this proposal and feel this is not a solution to the above problem.”

Mr Hore says the council must install a temporary pedestrian footbridge at the crossing of Caragh Road and the canal. According to local councillor Anthony Egan that funding has now been secured. The association also wants the eventual closure of the Ploopluck Bridge and the permanent diversion of traffic over a new bridge in the Caragh Fields. New road lighting along the Caragh Road must also be completed before the winter, Mr Hore says.


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24 June 2000: Intel launches $2 million expansion ... Kildare artist uses personal tragedy for inspiration ... the fight against Dunstown ... Seamie Moore on the new Railway Walkway ... 'Cullen of the Arctic' on his latest trip.

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the weekly roundup of Irish views and stories presented by Brian Byrne and Trish Whelan and broadcast from Vancouver on the Celtic Voices programme carried by Canada's largest independent radio network. You can stream it at 56k, or download to listen to later. Changed every Sunday.

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