July 1999 Newsletter

National Issues:

KIO on the Web
Keep Ireland Open now have their own web site at www.keepirelandopen.org. Included on the web is KIO’s policy on access to the countryside etc. This will be sent to all group members and if you have any views or suggestions on the policy document please let us know, you can also contact us at our E-mail address info@keepirelandopen.org
It is our intention to produce this in booklet format and send it to all members as soon as possible. However if individual members who do not have access to the internet request a copy now, please contact the Editor and he will gladly send you a copy.

Conferences
We attended the Inland Waterways Conference where we made points about access problems on the Grand Canal. We also attended two Coastwatch conferences which highlighted access problems to beaches and recently we attended the Heritage Council Landscape Conference.

Draft County Development Plans
We are monitoring draft plans for all counties with significant wilderness areas. We have already made submissions in respect of South County Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and have succeeded in effecting some improvements. The draft Wicklow Plan has just been adopted. While we did have some minor successes, the entire list of public rights of way were removed at the behest of the landowners. The Council officials maintain that they are still legal rights of way and have undertaken to review the position and introduce a partial plan later. However, the Council have accepted in principle that Special Area Amenity Orders be made for Bray Head, Little Sugarloaf, Great Sugarloaf and part of the Dargle Valley. We are also dealing with the Fingal and Donegal draft plans. The Donegal Draft Plan is most disappointing as it proposes the removal of ALL existing rights of way to beaches - four pages of them - from the existing plan. Lobbying of local councillors about this is already underway.

Autumn Campaigns
We intend to mount campaigns in September 1999 on the following issues:
- The proliferation of roadside fencing supposedly to protect farm animals. This problem can be largely solved by speed limits and warning signs.
- The continuing lack of action by local authorities in insisting on planning applications for new fencing.
- The payment of REPS grants even though the planning laws are being ignored.

Leinster

Wicklow Uplands Council
Many of you may have noticed the new "Welcome to Glenmalure" signs erected by the Uplands Council. While this is a positive development, surely what is needed are maps showing access routes through farm land to open country. Such mapped access routes would facilitate walkers by obviating the necessity to cross fences and would also be to the advantage of landowners by channeling walkers into specific routes.

Maheramore Beach
The access to Maheramore beach Co Wicklow is under constant threat and another parcel of adjoining land is on the market offering "access to private beach". Following representations by KIO to the auctioneers the word "private" has been withdrawn from the advertisement.

Connacht

REPS (Rural Environment Protection Scheme)
Just as the disastrous sheep overstocking policy (purely for handouts) has been discredited and finally acknowledged by the Government, we are now faced with another serious problem which is the widespread fencing of overgrazed areas as a requirement under REPS. This decision is just as wrongheaded as the first, and is filling the West of Ireland with eyesore barbed wire, making it impossible in many areas to step off the road, let alone access the upland areas without the risk of injury and damage to clothing. KIO is presently lobbying to have this requirement dropped on logical grounds: less or no sheep = no need for fencing.
We have set up a useful contact with the Country Sports Concern Group, which has produced a most impressive report on the REPS wire fencing issue. The group is lobbying Government for its removal, so we can make common cause here. There are also signs of discontent among the sheep farming community (REPS fencing is costing them money), and we will be seeking to work along with them. On this major issue we are on the one side.

Access Issues
Some of the access problems we face are listed below and we will shortly be making fact-finding visits to investigate at first hand the problems at: Benweisken (Sligo/Leitrim), Glen Inagh (Connemara), Cliffs of Moher (Co Clare) and the south side of Kylemore Lake (Co Galway). If any member has recent information on any of these , please ring Dr. Tom Rea at 093-35523 or E-mail us at info@keepirelandopen.org

Current Issues
Ughool beach closure - We are in correspondence with the Ombudsman about the unreasonable exercise of discretionary power by Mayo County Council. We now await his decision. Incidentally it is now two years since we went to the Ombudsman, and the delay is largely due to the footdragging of the County Council in furnishing information requested by the Ombudsman’s office.
A meeting is arranged with the Senior Executive Planner of the Mayo, County Council to discuss the illegal fencing at Durless, Drummin and Skelp. We will also be meeting the landowner at Delphi/Doolough to discuss very unwelcome fencing in this area.
Access to mountains via Kylemore Abbey grounds; a meeting will take place shortly with the management to pin down a verbal agreement that walkers will not be charged the entrance fee.
A study group are looking into the Commonage Framework Plans being proposed by the Depts. of Agriculture and of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands.

Munster

Mullaghmore, Co Clare
It looks likely that the final chapter of this saga is now being written by An Bord Pleanala following the recent oral hearing. We have made an observation to the Bord in support of the MCI’s objection to this development.

Political Developments

We met Eamon O’Cuiv, Minister for State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. We outlined our position on the fencing provision in REPS. We are hopeful of some progress on the fencing issue. A meeting also took place with officials from the Department of Agriculture on the same issue where we pointed out the inadequacy of the access option under REPS and the problems with fencing.

An Óige
Congratulation to our Treasurer, Jacinta Moore on her recent election as Secretary of An Óige. We wish her every success in her new position.

KIO Contacts
Seamus Mac Gearailt, Chairman 01-2840322 and Newsletter Editor: email: randod@indigo.ie
Michael Carroll, Secretary 01-4943221
Jacinta Moore, Treasurer 01-2988974
Michael Murphy, Sec.Connacht 098-25068

News items: material for the newsletter is very much appreciated by email or on disk in most formats. It saves a lot of typing!

Old Newsletters

If you would like to inform us of any problems in your area please email us at info@keepirelandopen.org

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