Newsletter 50 Spring 2014
Labour should be ashamed
The word in Leinster House is that the Bill brought before the Dail by Labour
TD Robert Dowds last June will not even be discussed until after the
May local and EU elections.
The modest proposal to just slightly
improve Ireland's lamentable access laws is considered far too
controversial to be put up for debate before we vote.
This is despite the fact that you,
dear reader, have more right to go walking in Scotland, England, Spain
- just about anywhere in Europe - than you do in your own
Brendan Howlin, the Labour Party's
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, told the Dail back in June
that the party will not be rocking the coalition boat on the issue-
even though Robert Dowds sought to introduce his modest proposal
following encouragement from another Labour Cabinet member, Education
Mininster Ruari Quinn, a member of KIO.
We have learned to expect the worst
from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael on public access, but Labour's
spinelessness on an issue that was largely solved by the British
Labour Party as far back as the 1940's really is disappointing.
Labour should hang their heads in
Don’t forget your AGM
Keep Ireland Open’s Annual General
Meeting will be held at An Oige’s
61 Mountjoy Street
7 on Saturday April 26. Tea and coffee will be served at 11 and
the meeting proper will begin at 11.30. Come along. Bring a friend.
Give us your ideas as to how we can more effectively campaign on your
behalf for better access to the Irish countryside, its seashores,
lakeshores, riverbanks, mountains and national monuments. Have your
on to block island fencing
the landscape: ugly fencing on Fenit Island
Ireland Open is on a collision course with Kerry County Council over
decision to allow landowners to replace ugly fencing which he was
using to block access to scenic Fenit Island in Co Kerry.
council has failed to apply its own planning regulations over the
fencing and appears to be in a quandary as to how to explain this
intend appealing the council’s decision to An Bord Pleanala unless
they fulfil their statutory duties by requiring the landowners, Ennis
solicitor Seamus T O’Sullivan and locals John Murphy and Kathleen
McCarthy, to apply for
necessary planning permission, to which the public could object.
of the ugly chain-link fencing, part of which was electrified, was
washed away in the recent storms. It has been at the centre of a
bitter local dispute since it was erected around the island in several
phases over the past five years. The fencing is said locally to have
cost more than €150,000 and its partial replacement will cost tens
of thousands more.
spectaculary beautiful small island, with its walks along a
breathtaking shoreline and to the ruins of its ancient castle (a
National Monument site) has, since 2009, been scarred by an epidemic
of heavy duty fencing, gates and threatening signs.
notices have been placed around the island
Much of the fencing is more like what might surround an
industrial complex in a high crime urban area rather than what is
normally found in a quiet area of small farms and natural beauty.
The landowners, who erected the industrial-type barriers
to keep the public off the island, are said
by locals to be tendering locally for fencing contractors to replace
the sections damaged by huge storms at the start of the year. The
landowners have been waging a campaign over several years to block
, which was traditionally open to walkers, anglers and bird-watchers.
has long been puzzled as to why Kerry County Council permitted
the original erection of the fencing when planning laws from 2001 and
2010 clearly require that a planning application and environmental
impact assessment be made before fencing can be erected in scenic
areas and in places traditionally open to public access. Now, in
response to repeated queries from KIO, the council has stated in
writing that it believes that the fencing was an exempt development
and therefore did not covered by the planning regulations.
KIO believes this is nonsense. The area
is clearly one of exceptional natural beauty and dozens of locals and
visitors have provided affidavits testifying that the island was
entirely open until the recent rash of fences went up.
We have informed the council that we
intend to appeal their ‘no planning needed’ decision to An Bord
Pleanala and have paid the €80 fee required for what is known as a
Section 5 determination in which the council must state clearly in
writing the reasons for their ruling.
KIO’s decision to challenge Kerry
County Council on the issue follows on from two recent victories in
which Mayo County Council has had its unwillingness to enforce the law
on fencing and access heavily criticised by An Bord. Both cases arose
out of disputes over blockages in
scenic areas close to
. In one case, a fence was erected blocking a long-standing path at
Corragaun. In another, a large boulder was used to block access at
In response to KIO’s appeal, A Bord
Pleanala inspector has ruled that the council has failed to apply
planning law and should have demanded that planning applications be
is good news for those seeking access to Fenit but Mayo County Council
have yet to respond to An Bord’s ruling… For further news on how
they and Kerry County Council are failing to live up to their
statutory responsibilities to protect access to your natural heritage,
watch this space.
of confusion on the Head
lighthouse before access was blocked off
KIO received the following email from Jim Richardson in the
When I brought my family over from
in June, we walked to the lighthouse on Sheep's Head, only to find that the
Commissioners of Irish Lights have now put up a menacing
no-trespassing sign. It's about 200 meters before you reach the lighthouse.
I have written to
the Director of Lights about this and received an unsatisfactory
response. (She did thank me, however, for pointing out that
tourist websites - including some run by the government - continue to
lure unsuspecting tourists to the lighthouse. Maybe
that's why they call it sheep's head!) Jim
1229 Lincoln Street
A very long Kerry
reeks are among our most iconic mountains but, even after five years
of haggling, public access is not secure
you want to see why KIO remains convinced that the “only by
agreement” approach to public access does not work, consider the
case of the MacGillycuddy Reeks in Co Kerry.
years ago access to The Reeks, which include a number of
’s biggest mountains and most majestic scenery, was under threat.
Nearly all the land on and around the Reeks is privately owned and a
number of farmers were threatening to block public access. Some were
refusing to allow necessary trail maintenance to take place.
then Minister responsible for public access, Eamon O Cuiv, declared
that the Reeks, along with
in his own constituency, were to be made pilot projects under
which the access issue was to be sorted out through
negotiation “as a matter of urgency”.
voluntary approach was continued by the current government.
years on, a massive, expensive 181-page report compiled by consultants
was released in December and it does little more than state the
blatantly obvious (You can read the whole thing here).
C na T report on access to MacGillycuddy Reeks (PDF reader required)
fewer than 130 landowners, many from the very periphery of the Reeks
area, were involved at the last count.
In short, access to the Reeks
has become a make-work scheme for bureaucrats, consultants and
course the uplands have to be managed. Of course landowners need to be
consulted. But to have endless consultations followed by large
expensive consultative documents is ridiculous, wasteful and
ineffective. This sad state of affairs arises because those seeking to
walk or cycle in the Reeks have no rights under Irish law. If they did
have these basic rights, then you can bet that the whole process of
consultation would have been sorted long before now.
is the absence of legislation that causes these ludicrous interminable
exercises in bureaucracy. If landowners knew that hikers and bikers
would be on their land as a matter of right anyhow, they would have a
much better incentive to sort out the details.
it is, landowners feel that Irish law as presently constituted means
that they hold the whiphand and can block access unless suitably
mollified and massaged.
politicians legislated for the public good and preserved our rights of
public access, we would not, five years on, be re-inventing the
Keep up the good
work on listing routes
to members who have submitted routes for inclusion in the County
Development Plans of County Councils. Please keep up the good work!
number of councils are looking for information on walking paths
traditionally used by the public. If you know of any such routes, send
them to the council concerned, along with a photocopy of an OS map
with the route highlighted. You don’t have to live in a county to
send in a listing. It would help if you could please send a copy of
your routes to Roger Garland, 43 Butterfield Park,
14 so KIO can follow them up.
details for councils:
Forward Planning Dept,
, Carlow. Emaul: email@example.com;
Marguerite Enright, Planning Dept,
. Email: Menright@kerrycoco.ie;
Forward Planning, Farnham Centre, Cavan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Great Water Street
, Longford. Email: email@example.com
Court to set new date for case
over Howth Pathways dispute
over a gate and fencing on Howth Head pathway
ongoing dispute over the fencing in of previously open land on Howth
Head is escalating with a local community action group demanding that
Fingal County Council order the removal of the fencing.
The Friends of Howth’s East
Mountain have already secured a ruling by An Bord Pleanala that the
fencing close to a house known as Heather Cottage should not have been
erected without planning permission and they have written to the council
demanding it be removed and subject to full the full planning process.
The issue over enclosure of the path
has also been before the High Court, which adjourned a judicial review
case sought by landowners challenging a Bord Pleanala ruling that a gate
placed across a path should not have been erected without planning
Part of the letter sent by the
Friends to Fingal County Council reads: We
would like to refer to page 17 paragraph 11.10 of An Bord Pleanala
assessment ref number 06F.Rl3078 line number 11, which states
that, under article 9(1)(A)(X) of the planning regulations that the
erection of fencing outside the curtilage of the cottage is not exempted
This fencing encloses land which was habitually open to the public
during the previous 10 years,and indeed not only for ten years but
for many generations.
The fenced land is also not exempt development under article 6 of the
planning regulations. Due to restrictions stated as article
9(1)(A)(vi)&( x) of the regulations. See page18 chapter 12.0 of An
Bord Pleanala conclusion
On page 16 paragraph 11.8 of The
Bord Pleanala assessment of another matter it states that a public
right of way exists, which runs from the entrance to Heather Cottage,
then East along the boundary wall and curtilage of the cottage and then
on down to the lower cliff path.
The Bord in making
this assessment fully supports our long held conviction that this area
is now and has always been a traditional path, used by the general
public and tourists for generations, despite the strenuous efforts by
the owners of the cottage to deny access to this area. The erection of
sheepwire fencing topped by barbed wire can no longer be tolerated.
The letter to the council follows an
earlier ruling by An Bord which led to an appearance at the High Court
in January. Following this ruling, which held that a gate erected
at the entrance to the cottage should
not have been erected without planning permission, the cottage’s
owners, Senior Counsel Gerardine Connolly and sculptor Patrick
O’Reilly, sought a judicial review. This was opened and adjourned in
the Dublin High Court on January 14. A date for resumption had not yet
been set as we went to print.
is a popular recreation area for Dubliners and the disputed area takes
in a walking route which
leads from the upper to lower cliff paths. The area has been the subject
of a number of attempts at enclosure over the years. More than 300 acres
of the land there is owned by Alans Park, part of Treasury Holdings, a
property company which had most of its holdings taken over by
NAMA. In the past Alans Park has made an application to build
luxury houses on the mountain.
Access officers – the names you need to know
WHEN you run into an access problem, your first port
of call should be to your local Rural Recreation
Officer. He or she will be grateful for any updates regarding
access and will usually approach the landowner in question to see if
there is a problem which can be solved.
Here is a list of the current RROs:
Ann Lannigan (tel: 057 8661900 or 086 8447338; email firstname.lastname@example.org);
Deirdre Kennedy (tel: 071 9141138, Fax 071 9141162;
Martin Dunn (tel: 0906 488292; email email@example.com);
Maria Munckhof (tel: 066 9472724 -064 41930; mobile:
087 2957780; email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Con Ryan (tel: 062 33360; mobile 087 0556465; email: email@example.com;
James O’Mahoney (tel: 023 34035; mobiles 0870556465
and 0870556465); email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Pat Mellon (tel: 0404 46977; mobile 087 7888188)
Thomás Mac Gearailt (tel: 091 593410/091 523945;
mobile: 087 0521339) email: email@example.com;
Tom Carolan (tel: 094 9366692; mobile: 087 2196930)
Eimear McCarthy (tel: 094 9366692; mobile: 086
0495041); email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published by Keep Ireland Open. KIO is an
environmental organisation dedicated to preserving public access to
our mountains, lakes, seashore and countryside.