Kildare councillor's attempt to block motorway tolls blocked by FF/FG

Pictured above is a presentation on the motorway being made to Kildare county councillors in February.

KILCOCK, 13 October 2000: 10.30am by Brian Byrne. At last night's meeting of the Mid-East Regional Authority FF & PD councillors from Meath and Wicklow spoke against, and voted down a motion from Cllr John McGinley rejecting Tolls on the proposed Kilcock/Kinnegad motorway. Senator John Dardis from Kildare spoke in favour of the tolls.

The Mid-East Regional Authority has councillor members from Kildare, Meath and Wicklow and last night they were debating proposals from the National Roads Authority and the Government to impose Tolls on the Kilcock/Kinnegad Motorway as well as other such roads. During the discussion, Cllr McGinley proposed that they write to the NRA and the minister for the environment rejecting such tolls, but the majority groups voted against taking the proposal.

Cllr Jim Reilly (FG) from Carbury spoke in favour of Cllr McGinley's motion, and supported it in the vote, as did independent Cllr Tony McEvoy. There were no Kildare Fianna Fail councillors present.

Despite Cllr McGinley's arguing that such tolls would impose hardship on
locals through paying the tolls and with truckers avoiding the tolls and
driving through by-passed towns (eg Maynooth and Dunboyne where truckers avoid the Tolls on the West Link Bridge), the FF & PD councillors still voted down Cllr McGinleys motion.

Cllr McGinley also stated that as the country is awash with money there is no need for such tolls. "It seemed to me that the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael councillors from Meath simply wanted to support Minister Dempsey in his home patch," Cllr McGinley said this morning.

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Monread to be first playground site

NAAS, 13 October 2000: 8.30am by Trish Whelan. Monread District Park is the site for Naas UDC’s first modern kiddies’ playground. The exact site has yet to be agreed between Council officials, local residents and the Parks Committee. The pilot playground is expected to be up and running within a year.

A number of other playgrounds are planned around the town, with Craddockstown and the Caragh Road put forward by planners as other possible locations.

A recent UDC meeting was told that people in Monread are willing to accept the playground but want parking facilities provided close by. UDC chairman Pat O’Reilly said he supported this location 100%.

Officials said the playground should be big enough to cater for demand and ideally should be close to a rapidly expanding young population, such as the lakes area, Ballycane and Monread District Park. Town clerk Declan Kirrane said it was important to have some involvement of local adults. He said maintenance costs would be relatively low for modern equipment and regular inspections would take place.

A case for Pairc na nOg was put forward by Cllr Evelyn Bracken who said there are still many young people living in that area. However Cllr O’Reilly said this would come about when people there can agree on what they want to see in the area. Officials said people there want the ‘absolute minimum’ - just for the area to be grassed and seeded. “They don’t want the tennis court back or seats or the playground there,” he said. Cllr Bracken thought this unfair to young people of the area.

Cllr Seamie Moore felt the Council should be trying to help areas which are looking for a playground of their own. It was pointed out that a number of other estates including Ashgrove and Hollywood Park were anxious to put in their own playgrounds if the Council could sort our the legal issues. Officials said, generally, the Council’s insurance would cover activities on open spaces but agreed to follow this up with their insurers.

A large modern playground would cost £100,000 while only £10,000 has been provided in the UDC’s yearly estimates. The balance will be funded by a term loan to be repaid through a £10,000-a-year provision in the estimates.

Pat O’Reilly told the meeting no area in the town will be neglected as the playground programme is to continue for a number of years. He said when the UDC programme is in place the Council would meet with a local group of parents seeking to set up playgrounds in estates (PUP).

Cllr Anthony Egan suggested they seek sponsorship from the business sector and it was agreed to follow up a potential sponsor and talk to any company interested in sponsoring a playground.

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Criticises delay in park land transfer

LEIXLIP, 13 October 2000: by Brian Byrne. The transfer of ownership of St Catherine’s Park in Leixlip to the three local authorities who are developing it is being delayed by ‘legal matters’ with Kildare and Fingal county councils. The difficulties in the transfer procedure of the park and the remainder of Lucan Demesne have been evident for over a year and the delay has been criticised by Deputy Emmet Stagg (below left).

Deputy Stagg says he fears that any further delays in sorting out the legal matters would cause a delay in implementing the development plan for the demesne, which will involve a £3.75m investment over the next five years.

The minister for the Arts, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sile de Valera TD (right) , urged in the Dail last week that the two councils complete the legal formalities without delay. Deputy Stagg is contacting Kildare County Council to ask them to do their part.

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Giving work brings merchant travellers back - garda chief

COUNTY HALL, 13 October 2000: by Trish Whelan. The fact that the general public give work to transient merchant travellers who call to their doors is helping to keep them in an area, according to Garda Chief Superintendent Sean Feely. He was speaking during Monday’s special meeting between top gardai in the county and members of Kildare County Council.

He told councillors that a group of merchant travellers travel up from West Limerick on a regular basis. He said many get work in the county which only encourages them to remain longer ... and to return.

Carbury councillor Jim Reilly agreed that people encourage these types of travellers by giving them work such as tarmacadaming, laying cobblestones etc. "If the public are prepared to engage them they will keep coming," he warned. He spoke of ‘the siege of Robertstown’ last year which he said had left ‘an a air of despondency and fear’ in the local community.

He said there is a need for all authorities in the country to shout for new legislation to deal with the matter and proposed members pass a resolution calling on the Minister to introduce immediate legislation to address ‘this very serious situation’.

Kildare’s Senator Sean O Fearghail (left) said the scale of the invasions had Gardai faced with a logistical situation in entering such sites. "We have had a softly softly approach in County Kildare to this problem from a local authority point-of-view, standing back hoping they would go away and only as a last resort taking court action." He again asked for a policy to pursue the travellers for every last penny of damage they have caused to property while in the county.

He said the people who suffer the most are the local indigenous travellers who are often tarred with the same brush’ as the others who come into the county. "They have to live here when the others move on."

He said they should be made realise that Kildare ‘is not a soft touch’.


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Around and About the County...

MONASTEREVIN: A Commemorative Stone will be unveiled tomorrow, Saturday October 14th, at 2pm, by Jack Wall TD at Ballykelly G.F.C Centre in memory of the late Stephen O'Rourke, a founder member of the club. In the unavoidable absence of Fr John Foster, Club President, local Ballykelly Priest Fr James Kelly will impart the blessing. As a fitting tribute, local teams Monasterevan & Ballykelly will engage in a friendly match on the adjoining pitch and afterwards all involved get together for refreshments at the Hazel Hotel. (Monasterevin Online)

MAYNOOTH: Maynooth Post Primary School is to be enlarged to cater for 850 pupils, from its present nominal capacity of 650. This follows a review of the school’s situation by the Planning Unit of the Department of Education. The school currently suffers from serious overcrowding, with a present roll of 733 pupils.

CELBRIDGE: Plans for the drainage scheme aimed at alleviating the flood problems at Hazelhatch in Celbridge will go on display at the end of October. This will allow the organisations most affected - Celbridge GAA and Celbridge Lawn Tennis Club - to see the scale of the improvement planned.

NAAS: St Mary’s College Past Pupils Union are holding an alternative therapy evening with speakers on acupuncture; homeopathy; relaxation and aromatherapy on Thursday, October 26 in St Mary’s College. Admission is £5.

MAYNOOTH: Proposed improvement works on Kildare Bridge in Maynooth are to be put on public display. The £1.178m project includes widening the bridge and the construction of a roundabout at the junction with the Blacklion Road.

ATHY: Two full-time special needs assistants have been sanctioned for Scoil Mhichil Naofa in Athy. The Special Needs Section of the Department for Education and Science will make the arrangements with the school authorities to finalise details of advertising the positions, minister Michael Woods told Deputy Sean Power.

NAAS: Poor maintenance of the Poor House Cemetery has been condemned by Cllr Charlie Byrne (left) who said the headstone was overgrown with weeds. “It’s full of nettles, dirt and filth but would not take much effort to keep clean.”

MAYNOOTH: Litter bins are to be installed at all bus stops on the Straffan Road and Leixlip Road in Maynooth, following the passing of a motion by Cllr John McGinley at a recent Leixlip Area meeting. New bins are also to be installed between the railway and Manor Court and at the Harbour, and the county manager is to be asked that necessary manpower be made available to to the area engineer to have them emptied on a regular basis.

ATHY: Roma McGrath has written from the UK looking for members of her family who may still live in Athy. Roma was born in England. Her Grandfather was Joseph McGrath and he had brothers Willie, Mick, James and a sister May. Willie was a butcher in Athy and was married to Bridget. "I wonder if any of this makes sense to anyone over there?," she asks KNN readers. "If so, please get in touch as I am tracing my family tree. I'm coming over next year so any trace would be useful."

NAAS: Life Saving classes will start in Naas Swimming Pool on Saturday October 14, from 7-8pm and on Monday 16th from 9-10pm. The Course runs for 8 weeks and costs £25. Certificates are issued from the Irish Water Safety Association to successful candidates. For information or to book contact tel 879747.

MAYNOOTH: Proposed improvement works on Kildare Bridge in Maynooth are to be put on public display. The £1.178m project includes widening the bridge and the construction of a roundabout at the junction with the Blacklion Road.

LEIXLIP: The Leixlip Town Commission Committee is to seek an update from Christy Stapleton in relation to the current position on the upgrade of the rail line. The DTO will also be written to seeking the inclusion in their next seven-year plan of a third Leixlip Station at Collinstown together with Park and ride at this location.


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Too much time wasted over Devoy purchase for needed housing

NAAS, 12 October 2000: 12.30pm by Brian Byrne and Trish Whelan. The acceptance of a bid of £7 million for 14 acres of Devoy Barracks has been welcomed by Cllr Pat McCarthy of Naas UDC, whose efforts to have the council buy the land will see a lot of people taken off the housing list.

But he said a lot of time has been wasted because the minister for defence had attempted to squeeze the most money out of the property, instead of taking on board the needs of the Naas community.

“How much money and time has been wasted on the wheeling and dealing which this council has been forced to engage in with the minister to reach this stage?” he asked this morning. “The only reason he could ask such an amount of money was because the previous council had been too compliant with his demands for a rezoning.”

He noted that in the meantime, a private security firm employed to look after the property had ‘made a fortune’ as had the estate agent involved, costs which could also have gone for community benefit.

“But what’s really galling is the fact that we could have had badly-needed houses already under construction if this whole mess hadn’t taken place,” he said. “Now we have to go through all the planning and other procedures, and it is likely to be up to two years before we can have any houses ready for occupation.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Emmet Stagg this morning congratulated the minister for defence in the Dail for ‘finally doing the right thing’ and making the land available to the UDC. “I noted that he had to be brought kicking and screaming to this end, while he was more interested in playing cat and mouse with speculators.”

He praised the persistent efforts of Cllr McCarthy on the matter, and said he had brought the situation about even ‘when others were laughing at him’. “It was a battle well worth fighting for the people of Naas. If Pat McCarthy hadn’t pursued it, that land would have been sold off to private developers.

Cllr McCarthy said he had been concerned all along with the provision of social and affordable housing for Naas, and if he hadn’t fought for the land, it would only have been used for Dublin overflow in very expensive housing.

He also expressed his concern that no official announcement had been made about the deal, and there was a distinct lack of information to the councillors. “I only heard about it from the media, and if it wasn’t for KNN I’d have no information on it at all,” he said.

This view was echoed by Cllr Charlie Byrne this morning, who said any announcement on the council spending £7 million on a project should have been brought to a special meeting of the council, and should be announced by the chairman.

“I haven’t even been able to get confirmation of the details from the chairman, the town clerk or the town manager this morning,” he said. “They’re simply not available. We need to know the details properly, and the full implications for this council.”

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UDC likely to borrow for £7m Devoy purchase

NAAS, 12 October 2000: 8.30am by Brian Byrne. Naas UDC is likely to have to borrow the £7m which it has agreed to pay the Department of Defence for 14 acres on the former Devoy Barracks. The acceptance of the bid was revealed last evening by Cllr Willie Callaghan (see last evening's story below), and an official announcement of the deal is expected within a few days.

The deal follows a series of negotiatary procedures over recent weeks between the local authority, the minister for the environment, Noel Dempsey TD, the minister for defence, Michael Smith TD, and the minister for finance, Charlie McCreevy TD (left).

The 14 acres was rezoned as 'New Residential' by the UDC last year in return for part of the total former barracks property which is to be used for new headquarters for both Naas UDC and Kildare County Council.

The news of the success of the bid appears to have quashed hopes that the Department of Defence would simply transfer the property to the UDC for use for social housing, which had been demanded by Kildare North TD Emmet Stagg. Earlier yesterday, Deputy Stagg said the relevant ministers had been 'playing cat and mouse' with a state asset which could be used to tackle the housing crisis in Naas, where there are currently over 400 people on the housing waiting list.

Last week, junior environment minister Bobby Molloy said the acquisition of land to meet local authority housing needs 'is a matter for individual local authorities themselves', the funding for which can be met from their own internal resources or from borowings through the Housing Finance Agency.

As Naas UDC has nothing like that kind of money in its 'internal resources', it will have to borrow to complete the purchase, though the money will be refunded piecemeal by the Department of the Environment as any building programme is progressed.

The minister for defence had always expected £7 million for the property, but a tendering procedure earlier this year failed to attract anything near this sum and there was only a single tender, from a Naas charitable group who wanted to use it for homes for the elderly.

The UDC did not tender in the previous process despite being instructed to do so by members, because officials thought it would cost the authority more than it could afford. But subsequent to the failure of the tender, council members once again instructed them to put in a bid for the property, which was then for sale by private treaty. It isn’t known if there was any other interest.

The property could support at least 112 houses, though this could be substantially increased with a mix of home units to include houses and apartments.

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Gardai want changed trespass laws to deal with invading travellers

COUNTY HALL, 12 October 2000: by Trish Whelan. Top Gardai have asked Kildare County Councillors to make representations to central government to have laws improved to deal with the problem of merchant traveller incursions around the county. It has also emerged that Chief Superintendent Sean Feely has written to the Law Reform Commission asking for a change in the law to allow for arrest for trespass as the problem in Kildare ‘is almost out of hand’. It was made clear that present laws are inadequate to deal with the issue.

Speaking during Monday’s special meeting between the gardai and members of Kildare County Council to hear each others’ views on the spate of huge traveller incursions around the county, Chief Superintendent Feely said he had identified ten sites in the county this year which had caused problems, double that of last year.

He said he would favour a law like that introduced in Wales where a senior police officer had the power to remove New Age Travellers from Stonehenge for the summer solstice. "I think that is the answer," he said. "I would love to see a system whereby Gardai could go onto a site, take names and prosecute people for being on the property, but legally, at the moment my hands are tied."

He said communities in Celbridge, The Curragh, Naas and Blessington had all suffered with up to 200 travellers and 100 caravans moving in overnight or in the evenings. "They cause unbelievable problems. Some people pay them to move on." He said these travellers cause much criminal damage but do it at a time when there is no one to witness it. "You cannot prosecute 50 people for criminal damage. You must see that person doing it or have a witness to it." He said a tough system was needed here.

He said after Sallins, the group of travellers there had moved on to the Naas Industrial Estate. He told how a man had been arrested on Friday and brought to the High court. However the court had already risen so the man had been detained over the weekend in Naas Garda Station.

He also likened the situation to how a law had been introduced to stop rural cowboys riding horses in South County Dublin, with horses being seized and taken to a pound in Saggart. "That problem is now gone."

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Planning alliance candidates elected to county committees

KILDARE GENERAL, 12 October 2000: by Bill Trapman. Considerable success has been achieved by members of the Kildare Planning Alliance in a series of elections which has taken place in the last month to the County Development Board, the Strategic Policy Committees and to the Kildare Local and Voluntary Forum.

The alliance’s chairman Aidan Keane was elected to the County Development Board while vice-chairman Dermot O’Donnell made it onto the Environment Strategic Policy Committee. Last week, the joint PROs of the Kildare Planning Alliance, Paul Croghan and Mike Parle, were elected as representatives for the Leixlip Area on the Community and Voluntary Forum. Celbridge representative John McGauran was elected for the Celbridge Area and John White, the alliance's representative from Ballymore Eustace, was elected for the Naas area.

“In almost every case overwhelming majorities were obtained for the candidates,” an alliance spokesman said. “Kildare Planning Alliance believes this democratic outpouring of support is indicative of widespread community backing for the alliance and an expression of widespread concern for the planning policies currently being foisted on communities by Kildare County Council. It should serve as a warning that those who choose to ignore these concerns that they will ultimately be rejected by the electorate of Kildare.”

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Leixlip garda station plans in doubt

LEIXLIP, 12 October 2000: by Brian Byrne. The provision of a full Garda Station for Leixlip is ‘up in the clouds’ following An Bord Pleanala’s decision to reject planning permission for the Youth Centre at Newtown House (left). That’s the view of local representative Deputy Emmet Stagg, who says there’s now only one site left where the station can be put ... and that has difficulties too.

He said the minister for state at the Department of Finance ‘will have to bite the bullet’ and provide ‘substantial funding’ to acquire a suitable site if the one under consideration beside the Catholic Church falls through.

“The people of Leixlip cannot continue to wait on a proper policing service for the town,” Deputy Stagg said. “The state is now flush with cash so there can be no more excuses for not providing a service to the town.”

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Naas UDC buys Devoy Barracks for £7m

NAAS, 11 October 2000: 6.00pm by Brian Byrne. The 14 acres of Devoy Barracks which has been up for sale for the Department of Defence is to be used for social housing by Naas UDC. This follows the acceptance by the department of a £7m bid from the UDC. It's not yet known if there were any other bidders for the property.

The minister for defence had expected £7 million for the property, but a tendering procedure earlier this year failed to attract anything near this sum and there was only a single tender, from a Naas charitable group.

The news of the acceptance of the UCD bid has been welcomed by Cllr Willie Callaghan as ‘great news’ and he says it will take a lot of people off the UDC’s housing list, which currently stands at over 400.

“Hopefully the Department of the Environment will now provide us with the money to build these houses,” he told KNN this evening. An official announcement of the acceptance of the bid is expected in a couple of days.

The UDC did not tender in the previous process despite being instructed to by members, because officials thought it would cost the authority more than it could afford. But subsequent to the failure of the tender, council members once again instructed them to put in a bid for the property, which was then for sale by private treaty. It isn’t known if there was any other interest.

The property could support at least 112 houses, though this could be substantially increased with a mix of home units to include houses and apartments.

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Ploopluck petition presented to UDC

NAAS, 11 October 2000: 8.30am by Brian Byrne. Residents of estates on the Caragh Road have handed in a 330-signature petition to Naas UDC demanding ‘action now’ over the long-running saga of Ploopluck Bridge and the footpath between their estates and the bridge. And they say they are seriously worried about a ‘silence’ to their concerns from the UDC, since they first wrote to it on the issue last July.

The residents are particularly concerned about what they say is ‘acute danger to children’ who use the road and the bridge on a daily basis to gain access to their homes and to playing fields on the Caragh Road.

“We acknowledge that public lighting work and repair works to the Ploopluck Bridge have been carried out,” Alan Hore (right), chairman Caragh Court, Caragh Green and Caragh Meadows Residents Association says in a covering letter with the petition. “We desperately need the public footpath to be completed and we need a public footbridge to be installed alongside the Ploopluck Bridge.”

Mr Hore says a combination of issues, including non-completion of the footpath, inadequate road lighting at night, the dangerous condition of the Bridge, road accidents such as the recent part-demolition of the Bridge structure by a motorist and the number of fatalities on the Caragh Road/Ploopluck Bridge over recent years have caused this road and bridge to be extremely dangerous to the public.

“We cannot wait any longer for the inevitable incident involving a pedestrian. We asked in our July letter that the council takes the lead and act before the winter sets in. Now the winter has arrived and our residents are facing dark dangerous evenings and nights on this road.”

The residents say they are ‘utterly opposed’ to a proposal by Cllr Seamie Moore (right) to put traffic lights on the bridge, which they see as only a temporary measure that will increase traffic jams on the Caragh Road, provide no right of way for pedestrians who want to use the bridge, and would lead to increased speeding by motorists to ‘break’ light changes.

“We do NOT agree with this proposal and feel this is not a solution to the above problem,” Mr Hore has told the UDC. “Over 330 people have signed the petition opposing this proposal. Are you going to listen to the electorate or simply push ahead regardless of what the public says?”

The association want a ‘permanent solution’, which they say consists of security of funding and installation of a temporary pedestrian footbridge at the crossing of Caragh Road and the canal, the eventual closure of the Ploopluck Bridge and the permanent diversion of traffic over a new bridge in the Caragh Fields, the completion of new road lighting along the Caragh Road up to the entrance of the sports centre and the completion of the footpath on the Caragh Road.

“We would like Naas UDC councillors to act responsibly and serve the electorate,” the residents say. “We understand that the council may have funding problems but it is the silence that worries us. We would like a clear definitive statement as to the future infrastructural development plans along the Caragh Road.”

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Householder 'had to leave home' over field being used as toilet

COUNTY HALL, 11 October 2000: by Trish Whelan. Travellers who had invaded a field in Celbridge over the summer openly used it as a sewer, often only feet away from the back door of a nearby house. This, claimed Celbridge Area Cllr Senan Griffin (left), resulted in the householder having to leave home.

He said photographs had been taken of the travellers ‘doing their various bodily functions’. He believed Kildare County Council will have to be more stringent in dealing with these unauthorised traders and wants the Gardai to be able to impounds cars, caravans and vans to allow for compensation when damage is done, or to pay for court injunctions and clean ups. “We should have been able to nail these people,” he told a meeting of councillors and gardai on the traveller issue.

He joined Cllr Kate Walsh (right) in paying tribute to the professionalism of the Gardai during these incursions. Cllr Walsh said people sometimes forget in these difficult situations that members of the force have wives and children at home.

Garda Chief Superintendent Sean Feeley said the gardai do not deserve any credit for having the travellers moved from Sallins or from Celbridge. He said this had happened in both areas on foot of private High Court injunctions.

On the Public Order Act, he said: “You can’t take 150 people and blame them for damage.” He believed the best way to deal with the problem would be the setting up of a Task Force to include all the agencies, the gardai, KCC and Customs, and, if necessary, request the Government to change the laws.

Naas based Cllr Mary Glennon (left) said the one garda sent to the Caragh Road field incursion, was backed up by a female garda. “Two gardai cannot stand up to a band of 50 men,” she said. She told how two farmer’s yards had been burnt out in Sallins and said it must be possible to prosecute the culprits. “We should make an example of these people. Haul them in and put them in The Curragh. Make them know they cannot flout the law in Kildare.” She said the travellers come in huge numbers and said it is a daunting task to deal with them.

Mary Glennon said she and a family member had contacted the Gardai when caravans first starting rolling onto the Caragh Road site. She suggested Gardai in each town move the travellers on pending legislation. “We have to show them it’s not an empty threat.”

In response Chief Superintendent Feeley said the gardai have to tread carefully as they are taken up in court for breach of the regulations in relation to unlawful arrests. “We cannot break the law, and if we do, are held liable,” he said.

“None of their people are going to tell us who caused damage,” he said. “It’s wrong to point the finger at someone. The rights of the individual have to be protected.” He said travellers use mobile phones to give the all-clear to enter a site. He also told how quick action by people at Kill dump and at Millennium Park at Osberstown had prevented about 40 caravans from entering the site.

(ED: the situation described in the opening paragraph of this article is nothing new. With some misgivings at breakfast time, but no apology, we reproduce above a picture of underneath Ploopluck Bridge after the Parc na nOg incursion in Naas last autumn.)

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KELT public workshops are successful

KILDARE GENERAL, 11 October 2000: by Brian Byrne. A series of workshops held throughout the county by the Kildare LEADER company KELT have been described as successful by the organisation.

The workshops were intended to lay the groundwork for KELT's submission for further funding for the county under the LEADER Plus and national LEADER programmes.

Some 160 people attended the events, which were held in Maynooth, Johnstown Bridge, Newbridge, Celbridge, Allenwood and Athy. Pictured below at the Celbridge meeting are Ciaran Duggan, chairman of KELT, with the minister for finance, Charlie McCreevy TD, and (back) Justin Larkin, KELT programme manager, and KELT board members Fearga Kenny, Chris Byrne and Charlie Carrie.

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Gardai should have 'reinforcements' for traveller incursions

COUNTY HALL, 10 October 2000: 8.30am by Trish Whelan. If the gardai are unable to cope with up to 150 potentially violent or hostile travellers in a field, they should call in reinforcements or the army, Deputy Emmet Stagg (left) told a special meeting of top gardai in the county with Kildare councillors.

He said Kildare gardai are under-resourced to the tune of 70 gardai and that ‘was a huge number to be down’.
He was frightened that the Gardai would back off because of threats from travellers. “Under no circumstances should the gardai consider backing off from a group of lawless people as it is not acceptable that long lists of laws would be broken,” he said.

Explaining the restrictions from a garda perspective, Chief Superintendent Sean Feeley said that when merchant travellers move in on private or local authority property the gardia have a serious difficulty in trying to enforce the law in relation to large groups of people. “Who is going to go into a group of 150 or so to so sort it out?” he asked

He said the gardai try to ‘ambush’ travellers on the road near a site being used and customs officers check for red diesel. “We’ve seized a number of vans in recent months but eventually have to give them back as they are registered in Northern Ireland or in the UK.”

Deputy Stagg said that the public cannot comprehend why laws that would be applied to the settled community are not applied to ‘these lawless bunches of mobile merchants’. “If a group of local youths from Celbridge caused damage to the local school, the Gardai would get detectives out to catch the culprits, but in this case the culprits were on the site." He said action should be taken to establish evidence for court.

The deputy said the Public Order Act, intended to deal with aggressive young people in housing estates and on the streets, gives sweeping powers to the Gardai. He said he was ‘a bit nervous for another tranche of draconian law’.

He drew a comparison between the 60 gardai patrolling Punchestown Races and the two sent out to Sallins during the traveller incursion (below), which he said was ‘hopeless’. He said effective garda activity had only followed a meeting of 1,000 local people in Sallins over the incursion.

He said there might not be a specific law to allow them take action in a private field but said there are many other laws available to use.

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Travellers intrusion during funeral service

ALLENWOOD, 10 October 2000: by Trish Whelan. A situation in Allenwood where travellers invaded the village on Sunday evening while a funeral cortege was arriving at the church has been condemned by local councillor Michael Fitzpatrick (right) who said he ‘abhorred the intrusion’.

The funeral service for the late Martin Callan was described by parish priest Fr Moore as the largest-ever funeral in the village.

Cllr Fitzpatrick said that travellers began moving into the car park at around 5.30pm and continued to move in after the start of the funeral service.

While prayers were being said for the deceased, Cllr Fitzpatrick said the noise of breaking glass could clearly be heard and a number of young people were seen to enter the classrooms of the nearby school.

Following the service, Fr Moore, Cllr Fitzpatrick and members of the local community organised to block the entrance to the national school and the community hall. Local lorry drivers drew loads of gravel from a nearby pit in Lowtown to provide mounds to secure the entrances.

“These are bullyboys of the worst type, with no respect for anyone trying to keep the peace,” he told a special meeting of Kildare County Council. “They moved in in face of a tremendous tragedy in the community. We now have the national school and car parks blocked off to protect the property and keep them out.”

Fr Moore had remained on the scene in support of the community until 11pm on Sunday night while this was taking place.

Cllr Fitzpatrick said he abhorred this sort of action by any individuals, but particularly at a time of such sadness in the parish, which has experienced a number of fatalities and mishaps in recent times. He praised the Gardai who had sent out patrol cars on three occasions and had advised local people not to confront the travellers because they were ‘extremely dangerous people’ and needed to be handled accordingly.

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Funding for Kilcullen from businessman to be increased

KILCULLEN, 10 October 2000: by Brian Byrne. At least £26,000 a year for the next six years has been guaranteed for community projects in Kilcullen by local businessman Kevin Keenan (right). A special committee to assess and decide on which projects will benefit is being set up.

Mr Kennan is the operator of the KTK private landfill operation at Brownstown and Carnalway in Kilcullen, and the money comes from a special 'Peter's Pence' levy on every tonne of material taken in by the landfill. For the last two years this has netted the local Tidy Towns Group £10,000 a year, but now Mr Keenan is putting it on a broader and more structured footing.

"I'm very pleased with how the money has been spent so far," he told the attendance at the annual Tidy Town Awards in Kilcullen at the weekend. "I've decided to double the amount gathered for the fund per tonne from here on, and this should guarantee £26,000 a year for the life of the operation, given the terms of our EPA licence."

The money allocated to the community so far has been spent towards the costs of major projects of refurbishing the Valley Park and the new Riverside Park behind the Town Hall.

Mr Keenan has invited any group or individual to submit proposals for other community projects, and these will be assessed by a committee of people who are external to these organisations. The members of the committee have yet to be appointed.

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Want traffic calming ramps

NAAS, 10 October 2000: by Trish Whelan. Gleann na Riogh residents want traffic calming ramps right through their estate to the Dublin Road.

Naas UDC plans to install 12 ramps between Woodside Park on the Sallins Road and the Leisure Centre on Monread Avenue and Gleann na Riogh residents want this extended to include their area.

A number of residents say they have already asked Naas UDC for speed signs along Gleann na Riogh, to no avail.

Residents Association secretary Fergal O’Neill believes access signs and weight restriction signs are necessary as the road leads directly into their housing estate.

Trucks parking on this road off the Dublin Road at Maudlins are another cause for local concern as it is feared they could lead to another accident in the area.

Residents have also complained of post delays and mixups with Monread post being delivered to Gleann na Riogh. A letter posted in Dublin on August 2 had arrived only the previous week.

Many living near the Dublin Road had also voiced concern over security cameras at QK Cold Stores, which could zoom into their homes. Following complaints, they said the cameras had been ‘dipped’.

The new committee also hope to resurrect a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme for the 230 houses in the estate.

Gleann na Riogh also has its own website keeping residents up to date with local happenings and asking for opinions on issues. This facility is open to other Resident Associations in the town, Fergal O’Neill says.

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Naas won't accept parking charges on its own

NAAS, 9 October 2000: 10.30am by Trish Whelan. Members of Naas Chamber of Commerce say they will not accept pay to park charges in Naas without them simultaneously being introduced in Newbridge.

The 50p an hour charge is part of the UDC’s proposed parking bye-laws due to come into effect on February 1, 2001.

This stance is for very obvious reasons, says Naas Chamber President Mary Bhogal (right): “Why should it be introduced in our town and not in Newbridge? We’re already so restricted with parking. If people find they can go to Newbridge and shop for free why should they shop here and pay to park?”

The fact that people are already leaving Naas ‘in their droves’ to shop elsewhere has been raised at UDC level.

Mary Bhogal says the Chamber committee is looking at the list of potential car park sites supplied by Naas UDC but are adamant that Naas will not suffer by being the only town where drivers will pay to park.

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Leixlip traffic situation discussed

LEIXLIP, 9 October 2000: by Brian Byrne. The Traffic and Transport Committee of Leixlip Town Commission has decided not to ask for an increase in the speed limit in the area of Intel, as there is a lot of activity at Intel and the Amenities Centre has a reasonably high pedestrian movement. “With Louisa Bridge changes, it was felt we should not seek an increase in the speed limit in this area,” says Cllr Catherine Murphy.

In regard to the area between Liffey Bridge and the Roundabout, the committee felt the Town Clerk should write to South Dublin County Council seeking an appropriate speed limit. The members also would like a survey of the roundabout and the possibility of introducing traffic signals.

On the Celbridge Road, which already has a 30mph limit, it was felt Traffic Calming is needed before Elton Court on the Hewlett Packard side due to an increase in accidents in this area and the problem with people breaking the speed limit. It was decided to ask Kildare County Council to provide this.

The committee noted the Council are to provide traffic calming at Green Lane near Castletown/Oaklawn but expressed serious concern about the delay in providing this.

As the new parking bye-laws now allow parking on the Buckley's Lane side of the Main Street, it is now felt necessary that the Council also provide a box junction on that side of the town to allow for egress from the lane. Also, with the new train service about to be introduced the committee felt Accommodation Road should be looked at by Kildare County Council from the point of view of increased pedestrian traffic.

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Big cleanup for graveyard to go ahead

NAAS, 9 October 2000: by Trish Whelan. The Abbey Graveyard in Naas is to get a major cleanup with work due to start within the next two months. It is anticipated the project will be completed by Easter.

Naas UDC has provided £40,000 in the estimates for its Millennium Project expected to cost £67,000. The additional funding required will be provided in future estimates.

During the graveyard’s rehabilitation, headstones are to be cleaned to allow names to be read; the railing will be restored as well as the wall. The project will also involve a link through to another entrance on the canal side. A pathway and a number of seats will add to the new look.

Dr Christy Boylan (right) of the South Dublin County Council Parks Department believes there should not be major changes made to the historic graveyard.

Town clerk Declan Kirrane said the work will tie in with the pedestrianisation of the Harbour area. He said it had not yet been established if there are any outstanding burial rights in the cemetery. He was seeking approval to proceed to a Part X Procedure because the renovation cost will be over £50,000. During this time the public will be able to make submissions to the Council.

Cllr Timmy Conway welcomed the news saying the graveyard had been left in a deplorable condition over the years. Cllr Seamie Moore said the last time it had been cleaned was during a FAS scheme in 1994 in which he was involved. He recommended that it be floodlit at night as it was ‘out of town’.

According to Cllr Evelyn Bracken the last person to be buried there was local woman Nan Dwyer.

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