Tuesday 31 July 2007

Ireland - Rural Development Plan

The EU's Rural Development Committee has approved Ireland's Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.

Country profile

* Agriculture - 62% of Ireland is agricultural land, less favoured areas constitute three quarters of it.
* Agricultural employment - 3.3%
* The agri-food sector accounts for 8% of GDP & 10% of exports (mostly beef & dairy).
* Competitiveness - High level of farm fragmentation, need to facilitate structural change, high agricultural land prices, need to support a vibrant & consumer oriented agricultural sector.
* Environment - considerable natural resources & biodiversity, disease free status, high level of success & participation in previous agri-environment schemes, public support for the multifunctional role of agriculture, risk of land abandonment.
* Rural Areas - declining importance of agriculture, pressure from urbanisation, outmigration, strong tourism & cultural identity, experienced in the Leader approach, dynamic population, low ICT uptake, need to create alternative employment sources.

Chosen strategy corresponding to the profile
Primary emphasis on the environment and land management (notably the continuation of the existing agri-environment scheme) and a secondary emphasis on the competitiveness of the agri-food sector and the quality of life/diversification in rural areas.

Of the total financial allocation for the Irish Rural Development Programme for 2007-2013, €2.33 will be financed by the EAFRD (European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development).

The Irish Rural development Programme aims -

* To support the development of the Ireland's rural areas, whilst upholding the principles of sustainable development and to support agriculture in its provision of public goods;
* To enhance the environment & biodiversity - in particular, building on the success of current environmental measures;
* To mitigate the effects of climate change and protect Ireland's natural resources;
* To ensure a competitive agri-food sector by boosting innovation, added value and consumer focus;
* To address structural problems in the agricultural industry and the need for on-farm capital investment;
* To address local needs and boost the quality of life in rural areas and promote the creation of micro-enterprises.

To meet these aims
The main priorities for 'Axis 1' are to create a strong and dynamic agri-food industry, to modernise agricultural holdings and to facilitate structural change through support for young farmers and early retirement. Furthermore, the funds under this area should be used to support training related to agri-environment schemes.

The main focus of 'Axis 2' is the protection of the environment and environmentally-friendly farming techniques, support to prevent land abandonment and the protection of landscape features. These include:

* environmentally friendly farming methods to enhance biodiversity
* suitable farming systems to preserve the rural landscape
* the protection of the environment on agricultural land and in areas of high nature value/Natura 2000 - and
* support for the maintenance of traditional landscape features such as stone walls and farm buildings, as well as archaeological sites on farmland.

Axis 3 & 4 will focus on the creation of employment opportunities and diversification of rural areas using the Leader method. Initiatives under these areas will support diversification into non-agricultural activities, micro-business creation and development, tourism activities, basic services for the economy and rural population, village renewal and development, conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage, skills acquisition and training.

€6bn Rural Development Programme

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD and her colleague, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, have announced that unanimous approval for Ireland's Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 has been received at a meeting of the EU's Rural Development Committee.

The Programme has been with the Commission since last January and the Ministers said that considerable efforts had been made - both by the Commission and their Departments, since then - in an effort to have the programme up and running with the least delay possible.

Minister Coughlan said the overall package totals €5.78bn in public expenditure - of which €2.33bn will be met from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development and the balance from the national exchequer. The programme is in line with the 2015 AgriVision Action Plan and takes account of the outcome of the partnership talks. "This Programme represents unprecedented investment in Irish agriculture and will enhance our rural environment and help to secure farmers' income into the future" - Minister Coughlan said.

The measures in the Programme address three priorities - competitiveness, the environment and the wider rural economy. The main agri-food measures are -

* REPS/Natura (€2.98bn)
* Disadvantaged Areas (€1.8bn)
* Early Retirement (€418m)
* Installation Aid (€63m) - and
* Farm Investment (€85m).

Overall, these Schemes account for 93% of the Programme's total public expenditure of €5.78bn.

The Minister said that the Programme will provide increased support for restructuring through improved rates under the early retirement and installation aid schemes. Considerable support will also be provided in the areas of capital investment, training and advice. There will also be a 17% increase in REPS payments - and payments under the Disadvantaged Areas scheme will increase by 8%.

Minister Coughlan said - "This €5.78 billion package is clear evidence of this Government's commitment to farmers and to rural life in Ireland. The unprecedented increase in exchequer funding for this programme has a dual aim. Firstly, it will assist competitiveness in the agriculture, food and forestry sector. Secondly, it will help to ensure respect and enhancement of the environment.

"It is fully in line with the EU rural development framework and is fully consistent with our vision for the future of farming and the agri-food sector in Ireland - set out in the AgriVision 2015 Action Plan. The additional Exchequer funding is, indeed, concrete recognition of the pledges set out in that plan."

Minister Coughlan noted that good progress is being made in continuing discussions with the EU Commission on a number of important nationally-funded measures - including the afforestation programme and the suckler cow animal welfare scheme.

Éamon Ó Cuív TD also welcomed the adoption of the new Programme. Over €425m will be provided over the next seven years - a trebling of funding compared to the 2000-2006 period - to support improvements to the quality of life in rural areas and the diversification and development of the rural economy.

Of the total, €234m will come from the European Union and the remainder from the Exchequer. The Programme will be delivered by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs through a network of Local Action Groups.

"It is a huge achievement to get LEADER on a mainstream footing" - said Maura Walsh, Comhar LEADER na hÉireann. "Such a large increase in funding means that the impact that LEADER can have will be very significant indeed."

Welcoming the new Programme, Minister Ó Cuív said - "It will play a key and vital role in ensuring that the aims of the Government in relation to rural development - as outlined in the new Programme for Government - are rolled-out and achieved over the next seven years. I look forward to seeing significant progress being made in developing the rural economy in the next few years - particularly in the areas of rural/agri-tourism, the continued development of the small food producer sector and the implementation of the Countryside Recreation Strategy."

He also indicated that the selection process for the Local Action Groups to deliver the Programme at a local level would commence in September.

Two major infrastructure projects open in Shannon

Clare County Council has officially opened two major infrastructure projects in Shannon.

The Shannon Recycling Centre has been completed a cost of €1.2m, while Phase One of a €3m southern primary road will open up 75 acres of land for residential and commercial development. Mayor of Shannon, Cllr. Sean McLoughlin said that both projects befitted Shannon's status as one of Ireland's fastest growing towns.

The opening of the Shannon Southern Primary Road Phase 1 provides access to 36 acres of housing land which will accommodate approximately 250 houses. This is the first phase of a project, which will open up an extra 75 acres of land, providing 600 additional houses and community facilities in Shannon.

The Recycling Centre, meanwhile, is situated in Smithstown, in close proximity to the Smithstown Industrial Estate. While the facility will be of tremendous value to the householders in Shannon, it will also serve surrounding towns and villages.

The facility will cater for all the major recycling streams and composters will be available for purchase.

"This €1.2m investment brings the number of Recycling Centres in Clare to five - satisfying one of our significant commitments in the Regional Waste Management Plan for Clare/Limerick and Kerry and making good provision for the public to recycle. These Recycling Centres are complemented by our existing 54 Bring Banks and the Central Waste Management Facility at Inagh" - stated Sean Ward, Acting Director of Services and Shannon Town Manager.

He added - "Coupled with the pioneering waste prevention project currently being carried on in Sky Court by the shopping centre's traders and Clare County Council, it is confidently expected that the recycling centre will further raise people's consciousness of best practice in waste management."

Study to investigate Avoca mining area

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan T.D., is conducting a wide-ranging study to investigate the impacts of past mining activity and develop rehabilitation and long-term management options for the Avoca mining site.

The study is being managed by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) with international consultants CDM providing expert assistance.

As part of the study, the GSI and CDM hosted a public meeting, entitled - 'Planning Avoca's Future' - in the Woodenbridge Hotel on 26th July. The meeting served to inform the community on the study and also to seek their input on the future of the area. Over 70 people from the local community attended the meeting.

Eibhlín Doyle, Principal Geologist, Geological Survey of Ireland, said - "The meeting was very effective, with excellent input from the community. The aim of the study is to develop a costed rehabilitation and management plan for the Avoca mine area. Over the coming months we will be carrying out investigations in and around the site to build a more complete picture so that we can progress the action plan for the Avoca mine site.

"When we have finished our investigations and developed options for the site, we will be returning to the community for their comments and input."

Once the study is completed, a proposed Action Plan for the rehabilitation and Management of the Avoca Mining Area will be presented to the Minister.

New study shows increased public concern for heritage protection

A new study on the value that people in Ireland place on heritage, shows that the public are becoming increasingly concerned about the need to safeguard our heritage.

The vast majority of those surveyed agree that new measures and increased funding should be put in place, as they are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect of development on our national heritage.

The in-depth study is the largest of its kind to take place in Ireland and was carried out for the Heritage Council by Lansdowne Market Research in conjunction with Keith Simpson Associates and Optimize.

The study builds on previous surveys on public opinion carried out for the Heritage Council from 1999 to 2004. It shows a strong growth in people's attitudes and concern about safeguarding and protecting our heritage - with over 92% of those surveyed agreeing that it is important to protect our heritage, while 92% think that people should be penalised for damaging heritage (up from 51% in 1999).

Ninety per cent are proud of our heritage (up from 83% in 1999) and 85% agree that the Government should offer more incentives to protect heritage (up from 76% in 1999).

Personal health is a key motivation for people's desire to enhance the protection of heritage and the environment. However, this motivation is combined with a social awareness of significant threats to the environment and a concern for future generations.

The top reasons people have as to why heritage should be protected include -

* Personal health - 68% of people agree that protecting our natural heritage for walks, enjoyment and recreation is vital for health protection
* Threats to the environment - 65% agree that safeguarding water quality and biodiversity is vital for our environment
* Concern for future generations - 52%
* General interest in Ireland's history and culture - 47%
* General interest in Ireland's wildlife - 40%.

The study was carried out over the past year on representative samples of 1000 adults aged from 15-65 years. It includes an internationally-tested process to examine if growth in public support and awareness can be translated into a public willingness to pay for heritage protection. This part of the study found a general acceptance that heritage protection is everyone's responsibility and that public taxation should be a key source of funding its protection.

Additional public spending on heritage protection was supported by 68% of respondents to the survey. People's willingness to pay for this additional protection averages an extra €47 per taxpayer per annum - a figure that amounts to a total of €90 million in additional funding. Familiarity with heritage - obtained through recreation, site visits or general awareness - is growing and is a significant factor in people's support for heritage expenditure.

By encouraging interviewees to trade-off alternative priorities for additional heritage expenditure, the study revealed areas for which additional spending was most thought to be needed. Five main priorities were identified as -

* 29% Inland waterways - restoration of rivers, canals, lakes and associated facilities for amenity
* 22% Improving coastal landscapes and associated amenity
* 12.3% Protecting and improving habitats for wildlife
* 10% Improved heritage education programmes in schools
* 9% Rural Landscapes.

As part of the study, in-depth analysis was carried out on the value of protecting heritage. Concern about the impact of property development on heritage and the environment has increased significantly. The nature of development in rural communities was a great concern, with many respondents feeling that villages are losing their original character.

While 58% agree that protection should not interfere with necessary infrastructure (up from 53% in 2004), many agree that, as a nation, we have not always been very good at protecting our heritage. While heritage preservation may have been perceived as a low priority in the past, in today's affluent, confident Ireland, heritage protection engenders national and local pride.

It was agreed by almost all participants in the study, that progress and some change is inevitable and that heritage protection should not significantly impede the nation's progress - but that the pursuit of progress must respect the nation's heritage.

A key conclusion of the study was that there is a need to encourage a more comprehensive relationship between citizens and heritage that will allow the overall value placed on heritage to be realised in terms of benefits to health and well-being as well as to the economy and employment.

Energy Minister offsets his travel emissions

Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, recently flew to the United States on a business trip and the Government is to purchase carbon offsets (Carbon Credits) to cover the carbon dioxide emitted by his trip.

This will be the first time that the Irish Government will purchase carbon offsets to mitigate the travel arrangements by Government Ministers.

The carbon offsets will cost €437.64 and are being purchased abroad from My Climate Org. The offsets cover the emissions from business class trips by the Minister and four officials for three flights - Dublin to New York, Washington to Newark and Newark to Dublin - according to the Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources. Minister Ryan travelled within the States by train, rather than flying.

The Government intends to put its own system in place to compensate for the environmental damage caused by ministerial flights, which will include planting mature trees in urban areas.

It is understood that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government, John Gormley TD, is to bring a memorandum to Cabinet on the issue in coming weeks.

Major public awareness campaign on climate change

Mr John Gormley T.D, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, has announced that he is inviting tenders for the design and delivery of a major new Climate Change Communications and Public Awareness Campaign.

The contract will be awarded for an initial two-year period and may be extended up to an additional three years.

"Climate change is happening and its causes are clear - greenhouse gases from human activity. Our response must be equally clear - we must act decisively to reduce these emissions. This Government will deliver on Ireland's Kyoto Protocol commitments and will prepare Ireland for the further emissions reductions that lie ahead. It is clear to me that Irish people want to play their part in tackling climate change and this awareness campaign will help them to do just that" - Minister Gormley said.

The overall objective of the campaign will be to measurably improve public understanding of climate change, its causes and implications. It will support the actions required to meet Ireland's emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol and further emissions reduction targets that are anticipated. Many of these actions are detailed in the National Climate Change Strategy 2007-2012 and in the Agreed Programme for Government.

All relevant sectors and activities will be addressed in the campaign - including energy, transport, agriculture, residential, the public sector and business.

A notice inviting expressions of interest in the contract has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union and on the e-tenders website - Click Here

The closing date for applications is 20th August 2007.

A short-list will be drawn up inviting a selection of applicants to submit complete tenders under the second stage of the procurement process. It is anticipated that the campaign will be formally launched in November.

Cohesion policy - Commission approves national strategy for Ireland

Regional policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner and Employment and social affairs Commissioner Vladimír Spidla have reached agreement with Ireland on its national plan and priorities for Cohesion policy 2007-2013.

In their National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), the Irish authorities describe how they plan to invest EU funding of €750.7 million over seven years, in line with the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs.

Commissioner Hübner said - "Ireland has been one of our best examples of how cohesion policy can be used to help create growth and jobs and I'm very happy the Irish authorities intend to carry on with policies on these lines. Ireland's framework ranks very high in its commitment to the Lisbon strategy for jobs and growth. 83% of investment has been earmarked in line with this."

Commissioner Spidla said - "The Irish strategy shows strong commitment to promoting more, better investment in human resources - which we hope will lead to more, better jobs. That is the aim at the heart of the European reform agenda. Ireland's priorities will equip its workforce with the skills to adapt to changing circumstances."

The Irish framework, negotiated over the past few months, sets out in broad terms how Ireland will invest €750.7 million over the next seven years to deliver growth and jobs, to strengthen human capital and to ensure balanced and harmonious development - including the reduction of regional disparities.

Ireland's strategic thematic and territorial priorities for 2007-2013, as set out in the NSRF for the two Irish regions South & East and Border-Midlands-West, are the following -

1. Promote investment in human capital through upskilling the workforce, increasing participation in the workforce and activating groups outside the workforce.

The authorities will focus on women, people with disabilities, lone parents, travellers (the Roma community) and ex-offenders.

A special programme will target migrants, as they make a very significant contribution to the economy.

2. Support innovation, knowledge and entrepreneurship in the regions. The objective is to boost research and development (R&D) in areas and institutions (Institutes of Technology, mainly), where this capacity has been lacking in the past.

The aim is to double the number of PhD graduates during the programming period.

Ireland will also continue to develop Foreign Direct Investment - one of the competitive characteristics of the economy.

3. Strengthen the competitiveness, attractiveness and connectivity of the National Spatial Strategy - defined by the government - through improved access to quality infrastructure and promoting environmental and sustainable development.

Gateways and hubs will connect urban areas. There will be a special focus on public transport and innovative environmental solutions.

The broad priorities in the framework will take shape through three operational programmes -

* one for South and East (supported by the European Regional Development Fund - ERDF)
* one for Border-Midlands-West (ERDF) - and
* one for developing human resources (European Social Fund - ESF).

Adoption of these is expected before the end of 2007.

Ireland sent its National Strategic Reference Framework to the Commission in March 2007.

Each Member State prepares a National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) - coherent with the Community Strategic Guidelines for 2007-2013 - in the course of an ongoing dialogue with the Commission. That document defines the strategy chosen by the State and proposes a list of Operational Programmes (OPs) that it plans to implement. As at 27 July 2007, 20 Member States have had their NSRFs officially validated by the Commission.

The Lisbon Agenda is an action and development plan of reforms, set at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000. The reforms are intended to implement the EU's strategic goal of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world - capable of sustainable economic growth, with more and better quality jobs and greater social cohesion. Progress is regularly reviewed at Spring European Councils.

Cohesion policy - Commission approves national strategy for Ireland

Regional policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner and Employment and social affairs Commissioner Vladimír Spidla have reached agreement with Ireland on its national plan and priorities for Cohesion policy 2007-2013.

In their National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), the Irish authorities describe how they plan to invest EU funding of €750.7 million over seven years, in line with the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs.

Commissioner Hübner said - "Ireland has been one of our best examples of how cohesion policy can be used to help create growth and jobs and I'm very happy the Irish authorities intend to carry on with policies on these lines. Ireland's framework ranks very high in its commitment to the Lisbon strategy for jobs and growth. 83% of investment has been earmarked in line with this."

Commissioner Spidla said - "The Irish strategy shows strong commitment to promoting more, better investment in human resources - which we hope will lead to more, better jobs. That is the aim at the heart of the European reform agenda. Ireland's priorities will equip its workforce with the skills to adapt to changing circumstances."

The Irish framework, negotiated over the past few months, sets out in broad terms how Ireland will invest €750.7 million over the next seven years to deliver growth and jobs, to strengthen human capital and to ensure balanced and harmonious development - including the reduction of regional disparities.

Ireland's strategic thematic and territorial priorities for 2007-2013, as set out in the NSRF for the two Irish regions South & East and Border-Midlands-West, are the following -

1. Promote investment in human capital through upskilling the workforce, increasing participation in the workforce and activating groups outside the workforce.

The authorities will focus on women, people with disabilities, lone parents, travellers (the Roma community) and ex-offenders.

A special programme will target migrants, as they make a very significant contribution to the economy.

2. Support innovation, knowledge and entrepreneurship in the regions. The objective is to boost research and development (R&D) in areas and institutions (Institutes of Technology, mainly), where this capacity has been lacking in the past.

The aim is to double the number of PhD graduates during the programming period.

Ireland will also continue to develop Foreign Direct Investment - one of the competitive characteristics of the economy.

3. Strengthen the competitiveness, attractiveness and connectivity of the National Spatial Strategy - defined by the government - through improved access to quality infrastructure and promoting environmental and sustainable development.

Gateways and hubs will connect urban areas. There will be a special focus on public transport and innovative environmental solutions.

The broad priorities in the framework will take shape through three operational programmes -

* one for South and East (supported by the European Regional Development Fund - ERDF)
* one for Border-Midlands-West (ERDF) - and
* one for developing human resources (European Social Fund - ESF).

Adoption of these is expected before the end of 2007.

Ireland sent its National Strategic Reference Framework to the Commission in March 2007.

Each Member State prepares a National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) - coherent with the Community Strategic Guidelines for 2007-2013 - in the course of an ongoing dialogue with the Commission. That document defines the strategy chosen by the State and proposes a list of Operational Programmes (OPs) that it plans to implement. As at 27 July 2007, 20 Member States have had their NSRFs officially validated by the Commission.

The Lisbon Agenda is an action and development plan of reforms, set at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000. The reforms are intended to implement the EU's strategic goal of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world - capable of sustainable economic growth, with more and better quality jobs and greater social cohesion. Progress is regularly reviewed at Spring European Councils.

Tara information note - Questions and Answers

The following Tara Information Note - Questions and Answers was posted by the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government.

Can the Minister change the route of the M3 motorway?
No, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government does not have the power to reroute the motorway away from the Tara Valley. The route of the motorway was chosen by Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority five years ago and approved by An Bord Pleanála in 2003. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and local Government has no role in deciding on that route.

Many commentators and some politicians have confused the issue of preservation orders on national monuments with a power to order a re-routing of the road.

Under National Monuments legislation, the Minister has the power to impose preservation orders on national monuments, but this would not mean a re-routing of the road. At most, a small section of the route might be affected. It would not lead to a re-routing of the road away from the Tara Skryne Valley.

Why does the Minister not impose such a preservation order?
In order to impose a preservation order, Minister Gormley would first have to receive advice from relevant experts to do so. His stated intention is to act on the best advice available to him and he has said he is prepared to act on such advice if he receives it. However, since he has entered office in mid-June, he has received no such advice in relation to any of the sites.

By the time he entered office in mid-June, the excavations had been completed on almost all of the 38 archaeological sites identified along the route. None of these were national monuments. The excavations amounted to preservation by record or the removal of all of the archaeological remains.

What about Lismullin - Why does the Minister not impose a preservation order on that site as it has been declared a national monument?
In the first place, Minister Gormley's predecessor issued directions allowing for the preservation by record, or removal of the archaeological remains at Lismullin, which has been declared a national monument.

Minister Gormley has received legal advice that he cannot reverse that decision unless he receives important new additional information on the site, which was not in the possession of the previous Minister. Again, the Minister has received no such advice.

He also took the decision to release the Departmental files on Lismullin late last month in order to ensure openness and transparency on the whole issue.

What advice has Minister Gormley received on Lismullin?
When he entered office, Minister Gormley appointed an expert committee to advise on the Lismullin site. The members include Conor Newman - the foremost archaeological expert on Tara and a long-standing critic of the current route - and Dr Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum who has also been highly critical of the current proposed route.

This committee has advised that the remains at Lismullin are too fragile to remain in situ and must be recorded and removed.

What exactly is at Lismullin?
The surviving elements of the Lismullin monument consist of two outer circles and one inner circle of stakeholes (indentations in the ground, 15-20cm in diameter). These stakeholes provide evidence for the existence in the past of a circular enclosure (80m in diameter), with a smaller inner central enclosure (16m in diameter). Two further rows of stakeholes show evidence of an entrance and passageway from the outer enclosure to the inner enclosure.

These archaeological features have been heavily truncated by ploughing in the past. The surviving features are shallow and fragile. The soil in which the stakeholes are located is particularly light and sandy. There is no structure above ground.

What is John Gormley doing to protect our archaeological heritage?
Minister Gormley has launched a major review of archaeological policies and practices, arising out of controversies such as Tara. The aim of the review is to identify measures to further strengthen our heritage protection measures and ensure best practice in the field of archaeology. It is the most wide-ranging review ever to have been carried out in this area.

UCD unveils winner of Gateway architectural competition

International award wining architect Christoph Ingenhoven from Dusseldorf, Germany, has been selected as architect for the massive 13 hectare Gateway project on the UCD campus at Belfield, Dublin.

Ingenhoven Architects were chosen after an international competition that drew interest from 62 firms from across the globe.

The winning design was viewed and approved by the university's Governing Authority.

The firm is best known for its new headquarters for Lufthansa in Frankfurt and the new European Investment Bank headquarters, which is currently under construction in Luxemburg.

"We are delighted with the outcome of the competition" - said UCD President, Dr Hugh Brady. "The creativity of the design from Christoph Ingenhoven's team meets the vision we set out to create - a precinct of modern beauty which blends with the natural landscape of the campus and surpasses environmental standards for energy usage."

The winning design has proposed a new building, edge-on to the N11 frontage of UCD - which, in turn, will enclose a revitalised green oasis at the heart of the university. These circular green spaces will be bounded by a tree-lined belt walk. The newly laid out open-space will be traversed by pathways creating stronger linkages between the various campus buildings. To help form the centre circles, the architects propose reducing the size of the existing lake and softening its edges.

Access to the green space and the wider campus will be through a dramatic new Gateway building. The new building forms are softened by echoing the curved theme of the landscape design. The buildings in the Gateway are linked at the centre by a 6-storey open-air glass-covered roof over a new pedestrian plaza, around which many new amenities will be clustered.

The design takes Belfield's geographical position into account - with the mountains and prevailing winds to the south-west and the elevation over the sea to the east.

Within the Gateway will be a mix of uses including - a culture and exhibition centre, cinema, hotel, student residences, office and retail facilities, crèche and medical centre.

The new facilities will enable the university to expand its academic and non-academic conference provision and increase the out-of-term usage of the campus. The central plaza will offer a dynamic and vibrant space for students, staff and visitors to the campus. The plan is to include 1,000 residences in the Gateway to augment the current student on-campus accommodation.

The extent of the Gateway will cover 13 hectares of the 132 hectare Belfield campus. Fronting onto the N11, it reaches south as far as Merville House, the UCD Innovation Park and incorporates the current location of the running track - which is being relocated to the sports section of the campus and the recently restored Belfield House.

To the west, it allows for existing buildings - including the engineering centre and those along the pedestrian spine stretching from the Quinn Business School to the science centre. To the north it includes O'Reilly Hall and links the veterinary hospital.

Ingenhoven architects are known for their innovative high-tech approach to sustainable building design and the proposal includes many innovative ideas in this regard. The design - which is subject to planning permission - includes a proposed light-weight arch extension to the N11 flyover. The new bridge design will provide a safer pedestrian environment at the entrance to the campus, where people will be given priority over vehicles.

The current surface carparks beside O'Reilly Hall and the engineering complex will be replaced with multi-storey and underground parking. This reclaimed land will become part of Gateway as green space in the beltwalk parks.

Green building design is central to the work of Ingenhoven Architects.

The new Gateway complex integrates low-energy and building control systems to reduce total energy consumption.

Intelligent facades provide for insulation, natural ventilation and maximum daylight.

Efficient lighting systems, solar and geothermal-backed conditioning systems and 'non stand-by' technologies will also reduce energy demand.

The project will be self-funding and the university is currently in the process of inviting expressions of interest from developers, with a view to forming a partnership. Until such time as this process is completed, the university is not in a position to put a value on the cost of the project.

The design allows for phased development and, after planning approval, is expected to take several years to complete.

Friday 27 July 2007

EU supports €6.52bn rural plan

The European Commission is to back six-year rural development plans for Ireland North and South worth more than €6.52 billion. Some £500 million (€746 million) of this will be allocated by the Stormont Executive.
The EU rural development committee yesterday sanctioned the Republic's rural development package, which will focus on land management, the environment and increasing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector.
Some €2.33 billion of the funding will be provided by the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development and the balance will come from the national exchequer.
"This programme represents unprecedented investment in Irish agriculture and will enhance our rural environment and help to secure farmers' income into the future," said Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan.
"This €5.78 billion package is clear evidence of this Government's commitment to farmers and to rural life in Ireland."
The main aims of the rural development package are to support the development of rural areas, sustainable development and the provision of public goods.
The allocation will also back programmes aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change, ensuring a competitive agri-food sector, addressing structural problems in the industry and the need for on-farm capital investment; and boosting the quality of life in rural areas.
In Belfast, the announcement was welcomed by Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew.
"I am very pleased that our programme is not just the first programme across these islands to be approved, but is in the top 10 of all programmes to be approved so far by the European Commission." The Northern rural development plan comprises some 14 individual measures drawn up to back hard-hit local rural economies.
Ms Gildernew said she had pressed Commissioner Fischer Boel and Commission president José Manuel Barroso on the need for early approval of the proposed rural development plan when they visited Northern Ireland in May.
"The announcement represents recognition by Europe of how important rural communities are to the fabric of this region. It is also confirmation of how well President Barroso and Commissioner Fischer Boel listened to our needs during their visits earlier this year when the president announced his initiative to set-up a European Commission Taskforce. This taskforce is helping us get the most of our membership of the EU and is facilitating the early approval of the new round of EU Programmes 2007-13."

Dan Keenan & Jamie Smyth
© 2007 The Irish Times

Plan to protect Poolbeg stacks

Dublin City Council plans to add the Pigeon House chimneys at Poolbeg to the Record of Protected Structures (RPS), in a move which could restrict the area's redevelopment as a new residential quarter.
The 680ft candy-striped twin chimney stacks at the ESB's Poolbeg generating station have been one of the city's most recognisable landmarks for more than 30 years, but have never enjoyed protection from demolition.
The council's southeast area committee has voted to add the chimneys to the RPS on the grounds that they are an essential part of the city's industrial heritage. The chimneys are now being assessed by the council's conservation office, which will report back to the councillors in September, who will then make a final decision on the proposal.
The move follows the decision last month by the ESB to close the Poolbeg power station by 2010. A spokesman for the ESB said no decision had been made on the future of the stacks and it was unlikely that any decision would be taken until the plant closed.
The company has also yet to decide whether it will sell the 90-acre site on which the stacks stand. The site is likely to become prime development land in the coming years with plans to move much of Dublin port's activities outside the city and proposals to turn the Poolbeg area into a high-density urban quarter.
However, if the chimneys are added to the RPS, any development would have to incorporate the two giant stacks, which, while considered a vital piece of Dublin's heritage by the councillors, could be seen as an eyesore by developers and homebuyers.
Labour councillor Dermot Lacey, who originally proposed the preservation of the chimneys, said it was essential they were preserved now, before any decisions on the future of the site were made.
"A lot of people are going to be living in Poolbeg, it is going to be a new community, but it's also important that we preserve the old and these chimneys are an important part of our industrial heritage."

Olivia Kelly
© 2007 The Irish Times

Planning refused for Dingle development

A proposal for a retail and housing development on an open space at Goat Street near the centre of Dingle town has been refused by Bord Pleanála.
Permission for the three blocks of terraced accommodation consisting of 17 apartments, three houses and a retail unit on a grass site at Fairfield Close, Goat Street, Dingle, Co Kerry, had already been refused by the county council on zoning grounds.
The appeal was taken by the developers.

Department relocation to shift from Knock to Charlestown

The Government has decided to shift the location of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs from Knock, Co Mayo, to nearby Charlestown, following An Bord Pleanála's rejection of its original plans.
The decision means land bought at Knock by the Office of Public Works will lie idle for now, and that a new site will have to be purchased in Charlestown, the Minister, Eamon Ó Cuív, said.
However, the Knock property will "not go to waste".
"I have no doubt but that over the next 10 to 20 years we will find plenty of uses for it. Knock airport is going to develop."
Extra property will now be leased in Tubbercurry to house 30 more civil servants who have agreed to move from Dublin or other locations to join 70 department staff already temporarily housed there.
The Government's plans to build a new office at Knock airport were dashed when An Bord Pleanála ruled that it would be remote from "the normal range of services and facilities" and remote from any town.
The development would give rise to unsustainable forms of commuting and would contravene Mayo's development plan, the board ruled when it considered an appeal by Peter Sweetman and Associates of Rathmines, Dublin.
Last night, Mr Ó Cuív said he was confident a Charlestown office would get planning permission, since the town had been specifically mentioned in the board's final ruling.
The changes mean a final home for the decentralised department would not be ready now for "about two years", the Minister said.

Mark Hennessy
© 2007 The Irish Times

CSO ethnicity results: 70% of Travellers settled

IRELAND’S Asian residents are more likely to be Catholic than Muslim, while most Travellers live in houses or flats, according to the latest results from last year’s Census.

The census has revealed almost 60% of Asian people in the country live in Dublin, in addition to 47.7% of those who described their ethnicity as black or black Irish.

Yesterday the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published its latest findings, focussing on ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

The CSO put the number of people of Asian origin at 52,345, of whom 30,624, or 58.5%, live in Dublin.

The number of people describing themselves as black was 44,318, of whom 21,132, or 47.7%, lived in Dublin.

About 26% of the Asian population described themselves as Catholic, while 22% said they were Muslim.

One in three people with black or black Irish ethnicity was Catholic, with one-in-six a Muslim.

The figures also showed the number of people who described themselves as Travellers was 22,435 or 0.5% of the population.

Of those, 22,002 live in 4,371 private households, which were defined as one or more persons living at the same address with common housekeeping arrangements.

More than 69% of these Travellers lived in houses, flats, bedsits or other permanent structures. The remaining 31% lived in temporary dwellings like caravans.

Of 3,150 households in permanent accommodation, most rented from a council while 16% were owner-occupiers of their own homes.

The highest concentrations of Travellers was in the greater Dublin area or the west of Ireland, particularly Tuam in Co Galway.

Of all Travellers, more than 95% were Catholic while 2.5%, or 529 members of the community, were Church of Ireland.

Irish Examiner

Council official speaks out on European investigation Locals only' planning being examined by EU

So-called locals only' planning policies are currently being examined by the EU following an accusation of discrimination by a County Wicklow resident.

However, Wicklow County Council's planning director, Des O'Brien, is confident that the EU Commission will not find against them.

He told a Wicklow area meeting of the County Council that the Commission was looking to see if the locals only rule adopted by Wicklow, among others, in relation to planning applications for one off houses in rural areas was an impediment to EU citizens having the same rights as others.

The commission had not come to a decision yet, he said. They had to refer back to the Department of the Environment who then had to refer questions to the council. This had not happened yet, Mr O'Brien stated.

I can't see them finding against us,' he told the meeting. If it did happen it would mean that it would be very hard for local people to be able to afford to buy sites.'

Cllr Conal Kavanagh, who raised the issue, pointed out that if the EU found against the council it could result in no one being granted planning permission in rural areas.

It could go either way. It could mean that anyone who applied would get planning permission which would create huge competition for sites,' Mr O'Brien said prompting councillors to interject that they would never happen.

The planning director said that in the event of such a ruling the implications would depend on how councillors cast their county development plan. However, he said it was too far ahead to foresee at the moment.

Wicklow People

Wicklow town shopping centre gets go-ahead

The developers of a new shopping centre and residential development in Wicklow town centre have finally been given the green light to proceed.

The mixed use retail and residential development, which will be constructed on the site of the Bayview Hotel and Stra Pub as well as adjoining premises on The Mall and High Street, has been granted planning permission subject to 30 conditions.

On two occasions permission was granted by Wicklow Town Council and twice it was appealed to An Board Pleanala. However, the second appeal to the planning board was withdrawn and the developers received written confirmation that they could go ahead this week.

One of the developers, local businessman Tony O'Reilly, said they now hope to start building work after Christmas. He hopes that the development will help to revive the flagging town centre's fortunes.

Wicklow People

Abwood in Wicklow granted nine month stay on order

Troubled local company, Abwood, has been granted a stay of nine months on a High Court order which directed them to cease operations on their site at Timore, Newcastle.

The company returned to the High Court last Thursday following the judgement of Mr Justice Charlton the previous week who agreed with Wicklow County Council that the company was in breach of planning regulations. The council objected strongly to a stay of longer than three months last Thursday. However, Abwood was granted nine months in which time it hopes to regularise its planning situation.

While this means that we did not have to put employees on notice immediately, it still leaves us with little time to see what can be done with the factory and site to achieve a mutually acceptable way forward,' stated Abwood's financial controller, Breda Hamilton.

Wicklow People

Thursday 26 July 2007

One-third of homes empty

MORE than a third of houses - 35pc - built in Co Clare between 2002 and 2006 remain empty most of the time because they are either holiday homes or second homes.

Statisics from Clare Co Council show that of the 8,070 homes built in the period 2,879 homes remain 'vacant', giving a total of 5,341 'vacant' homes built since 1996. A draft housing strategy warns a downturn in the housing market would result in a major reduction in holiday and second homes being built.

Irish Independent

Tara protesters believe Gormley could save site

PROTESTERS hoping to save the Hill of Tara from the M3 motorway have rejected claims by the Environment Minister that he is powerless to change the route.

TaraWatch has argued that although John Gormley says he cannot step into the fray, the Green minister could declare the Lismullen site a national monument and then enact a section of the National Monuments Act.

This would give directions for its preservation "in situ" and the controversial roadway would have to be rerouted.

After taking independent legal advice on the issue, campaigners say the new minister is "understating and downplaying his options". They also pointed out that An Bord Pleanala can order a new environment impact statement if the decision results in a "material" change to the project.

"The European Commission has now indicated that the decision to demolish a national monument is a material change to the scheme, which necessitates a new Environmental Impact Statement for this section," said a member of the group, Vincent Salafia.

In one of his final acts of office, former environment minister Dick Roche controversially signed an order of preservation by record for Lismullen. This means the prehistoric henge is to be photographed, sketched and measured before the site is razed to make way for the motorway.

* Four men involved in the Save Tara protest who spent a week in jail after refusing to give a commitment to stay away from the M3 site yesterday walked from Navan District Court after agreeing to bail conditions.

Edel Kennedy
Irish Examiner

Taoiseach knew of 'games' over developments, says Gilmartin

BERTIE Ahern was well aware of the "games" that were going on about developments in Dublin in the late 1980s, the Mahon Tribunal heard yesterday.

But the Taoiseach, who will be called to give evidence in person to the tribunal in September, was the only politician developer Tom Gilmartin said he could trust.

Although he gave a £50,000 donation to Fianna Fail, Mr Gilmartin said he would have been prepared to pay £500,000 to extract himself from the corruption which was going on.

"What favour did I get for my £50,000? I got myself bankrupted and destroyed," he said.

"It cost me, boy did it cost me. Your client (Owen O'Callaghan) was a far better hand at it," Mr Gilmartin told Paul Sreenan, SC.

"You can go on and on until hell freezes over trying to associate me with bribery and corruption, but you will not because I didn't bribe anyone," he added.

Mr Gilmartin said former government press secretary Frank Dunlop was paid to run a ring of corruption, "of which Liam Lawlor was only one".

"I would have been quite happy to pay £500,000 to get my money back and get out of the country.

"I would have been happy going up the road, I would be laughing all the way to the bank," Mr Gilmartin said.

He said he had complained to both Bertie Ahern and Padraig Flynn about what was happening as he tried to put his plans for the development of Quarryvale, now the Liffey Valley Shopping centre, into action.

Irish Independent

Western town is to be the site for O Cuiv's headquarters

THE Government has chosen Charlestown, Co Mayo, as the new headquarters of a department after planning permission was refused at Knock Airport.

The headquarters of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will employ 140 people when it is fully staffed. Of these, 70 are currently located temporarily in Tubbercurry, and 30 more are due to take up their posts later this year.

An Bord Pleanala had turned down the department's appeal to build the new headquarters at Knock Airport on July 13, saying the building should be located in a town.

Minister Eamon O Cuiv brought the Charlestown proposal before the Government yesterday and it was approved.

But there is now likely to be a two-year wait before the building is completed and the staff move in to the new location, five miles from Knock Airport.

Mr O Cuiv said last night he was confident that planning permission would be approved when a new site is bought in Charlestown, where the design for the proposed building at the airport would be used.

He said the Government had directed the Office of Public Works, which is responsible for the decentralisation programme, to take the necessary steps for the new location "as a matter of urgency".

He said he had had discussions with the unions and staff associations yesterday and they were happy with the new arrangements.


Mr O Cuiv said he had been keen to move quickly to end the uncertainty about the new location in the interests of staff, their families and the running of the department. "The airport location for the headquarters would have been of great strategic value in terms of the further development of the airport and the area," he said.

"But Charlestown is close to the airport and on the Western rail corridor, and the location of the headquarters there will have very positive benefits for the town, the airport itself and the surrounding area." The minister said that half of those moving to Charlestown were being relocated from Dublin.

Gene McKenna
Irish Independent

Go-ahead for €33m events centre — but losing bidders criticise plan

CORK has beaten Limerick in the race to provide a multi-million euro events centre for Munster.

The Department of Sport confirmed yesterday that it is considering building such a facility in Limerick in an effort to boost tourism in the mid-west region.

If sanctioned, the new conference centre will be located near Shannon Airport.
But Cork has beaten them to the punch. On Monday, city councillors selected a Howard Holdings plan to build a €33 million events centre in the city’s docklands.

They also rubber-stamped an €8.25m grant to help secure the facility.

Despite a broad welcome from the city’s business and tourism interests, the plan was slated yesterday by one of the companies which lost out on the bid.

Medaza — a firm headed by Robert Daly and Aidan Foley — claimed the venue will be too small and will not be able to attract large conferences or “A-list music stars”.

Frustrated by years of delays, Cork’s city manager, Joe Gavin, offered a grant, up to a maximum of €12m, last April to encourage submissions from the private sector to secure the development of an events/conference centre for the city.

Four proposals were submitted, from Howard Holdings, Medaza, the Hyde Partnership and Ascon.

They were examined by three senior city officials — Kevin Terry, the head of the planning department, Tim Healy, the head of the finance department, and Jim O’Donovan, the director of community and enterprise.

They recommended to Mr Gavin that he recommend to councillors that the city endorse Howard Holdings’ plans for the project. After an hour and a half of talks behind closed doors, councillors finally endorsed the project.

But Medaza criticised all aspects of the winning proposal.

“The conference centre can accommodate 2,000 — this therefore excludes forever Cork’s ability to hold major conferences for the pharmaceutical or medical industries — of up to 5,000 people,” the spokesman said.

“Neither event centre or conference centre could accommodate an Árd Fheis of any of the main political parties or a national conference for any of the main trade unions.”

He said sporting bodies told Medaza that with a facility as large as they were proposing — 6,500–8,000 seats — they could deliver European and world championships in various codes to Cork.

“This will now not be possible with the Howard Holdings proposal,” he said.

The proposed 200-bed hotel will also be too small, he said.

But a spokesman for Howard Holdings defended their proposal.

“The design meets all the specifications that were set out by the city,” he said.

“Howard Holdings employed HOK International — leading designers of events and conference centres across Europe — to design this facility.

“And Live Nation who run The Point also had an input.

“Key to its success will be its flexibility. It can host large events as well as smaller events.”

Howard Holdings are ready to lodge a planning application within weeks and plan to have the venue open by September 2009.

Irish Examiner

Wednesday 25 July 2007

Motorway monument site 'too fragile to remain'

THE national monument found in the path of the controversial M3 motorway in Co Meath cannot be preserved in place, a government-appointed committee has decided.

The condition of the Lismullin site is so bad that the archaeological remains will have to be excavated.

The Lismullin Advisory Committee, in a report published last night, said the members had agreed that the site "was in a very vulnerable condition, could not sustain or withstand preservation in situ and that, therefore, excavation is desirable and in the best interests of the archaeological remains".

Protesters have been waging an intensive campaign to stop the road going through its proposed route.

The National Roads Authority insist the new motorway will be further away from the existing gridlocked N3, which it says is one of the most dangerous roads in the country with a 50pc higher crash and road death rate.

The National Museum has recommended that an extensive archaeological assessment be carried out at Lismullin before the motorway is built.

It has been agreed that the Lismullin Advisory Committee will be advised prior to any excavation.

Irish Examiner

From Lansdowne Road to Stands Down Road . . . in a single day

A LOT done, so much more to do.

The first work on the new €365m Lansdowne Road stadium will begin this week, amid the rubble and remnants of the oldest rugby stadium in the world.

Demolition work on the antiquated stadium is expected to finish towards the middle of next month with a number of Dart services to be closed to facilitate the destruction of the remainder of the West stand over the August bank holiday weekend.

But, before that comes to pass, building will start on the new state-of-the-art 50,000-seater stadium.

"Later this week, they are starting some work on the foundations for the new East stand," Roddy Guiney, spokesman for the Lansdowne Road Stadium Development Company, confirmed yesterday.


"That's the first part of work for the new stadium and that will start I think on Thursday or Friday. The plan is that the stadium is complete and the pitch in position by the end of 2009 so it's a fairly tight schedule so we're keeping it moving."

Planning permission was granted for the new stadium last March and the demolition men moved in on the famous old Dublin 4 stadium in May.

And, as the main picture shows, they have made light work of a ground that hosted its first international game in 1878. Only the West stand hasn't been battered into submission, and even that is roofless.

And while Ireland's football players often complained about the state of the pitch in the wake of rugby internationals, it never quite plumbed these depths.


"We are on track. The demolition should be finished by the middle of August at the latest so it is right on schedule," Mr Guiney said.

"The south end terrace or the Lansdowne Road terrace is gone, the West stand is roofless and the soft fittings and furnishings are gone from that. The plan is and the plan always was to take that down over the August bank holiday weekend so that will be totally gone by then.

"My understanding is that the last of the East stand being taken down at the moment will probably be done by the August bank holiday weekend, and at the moment they are working on the Havelock Square end or the north end".

"Everything is due to be down by the middle of August, the demolition will be over by the third week."

Dart services between Connolly station and Sydney Parade will be closed over the August bank holiday to facilitate the work on the West stand.

At the moment there are 200 workers on site, but that will expand significantly as soon as the building work commences in earnest. "It's when you get into the real construction phase that the figure will ramp up and I think. When it's at its most advanced there'll be seven or eight hundred or maybe 900 working there," Mr Guiney said.

Jason O'Brien
Irish Independent

UCD planning €450m facelift to create community campus

UNIVERSITY College Dublin (UCD) is planning to make a dramatic new mark on the Dublin landscape with a development that will serve both students and the public.

UCD yesterday unveiled the winner of an international architectural competition to transform the Belfield campus, which has a daily population of up to 25,000, into a vibrant community with strong links between learning and living.

Award-winning German architect Christoph Ingenhoven was selected. His designs include the new Lufthansa headquarters in Germany and the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg, which is under construction.

The name for the project, Gateway, gives a sense of how the college hopes to open up to the public, starting with a commanding presence above the Stillorgan dual carriageway (N11). The curved, glass and timber facade of the six-storey high buildings edging the N11 will "sweep visitors into a light-filled pedestrian plaza" leading to the main campus, which is also being improved.

The Gateway will house many of the new amenities, including a hotel, shops, a medical centre, culture and exhibition centre, creche, an extra 1,000 student residences, and offices for research and development projects - all of which will pay for the project.

The new campus will be vehicle free, with buses stopping at the perimeter, and the surface car parks that are now near the entrance will be replaced with multi-storey and underground facilities to include the space currently used as the running track

The green theme includes plans to reduce energy consumption, with natural ventilation and solar and geothermal-based air conditioning systems.


There will be a "green oasis" at the heart of the campus, with two circular green spaces bounded by a tree-lined walk and traversed by pathways. To help form the circles, the lake will be reduced in size and have its concrete edges softened.

UCD president Dr Hugh Brady said the facilities would allow the college to expand its conference provision and increase usage of the campus during university holidays.

He said there would be a cultural/entertainment centre for students, which would also attract locals and visitors to Dublin.

Dr Brady said what he loved about Mr Ingenhoven's design was that it drew inspiration from trees and the small woods on the campus, escaping the traditional quadrangle look associated with universities.

"He keeps a sense of community. What I love is that the student comes first," said Dr Brady.

The development will cost an estimated €450m. It will be financed under a public-private model in partnership with a development consortium, with UCD ultimately taking ownership. It means that the college, which has carried the €1.3m cost of the architectural competition, will not have to raise the money.

The plans also include changes to the N11 flyover, and the whole project is subject to a planning application to the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council. The project also depend on strength of the commercial market - although the already interest in taking over the hotel - and it is anticipated that the first phase will be completed by 2013.

However, former Dublin lord mayor and Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said that Dr Brady was refusing to meet his neighbours to discuss the proposed development.


"Quite simply, his behaviour is nauseating," Mr Lacey said.

"Without as much as a letter to inform their neighbours, the UCD authorities last year submitted a planning application for a massive development of 500 apartments, office complex and ancillary buildings."

The site notices for these developments were placed about a mile away from the houses most affected, he said.

While Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council granted permission, residents appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanala and won.

Mr Lacey said that the local residents intend to vigorously contest the new planning application.

Katherine Donnelly
Irish Independent

Local appeal fails to clear way for Tesco plan

DESPITE huge public support in north Kerry for a new Tesco supermarket in Listowel, An Bord Pleanála has rejected plans by the retail giant to open in the town.

Listowel mayor Pat Loughnane yesterday said locals were very disappointed, pointing out that a petition with 1,500 signatures had been gathered in support of the retail chain’s plans.

Tesco’s proposal was to build a 4,000sq ft (1,220sq m) store on a greenfield Ballybunion Road site.

Listowel Town Council had granted planning permission, but the application was forwarded to An Bord Pleanála after submissions were made by RGDATA, the retailers’ lobby group, and the Garvey group, which has a supermarket in Listowel.

The Garvey Group maintained that any out-of-town developments would hinder the progress of the town centre.

An Bord Pleanála said the development would be on a site 800 metres from the town centre and its location would conflict with a policy which favoured the siting of retail development in town centres.

It also said the proposed development would represent poor-quality development in terms of visual amenity.

But mayor Pat Loughnane said there wasn’t a town centre site available that would accommodate a supermarket.

In a statement, the Garvey Group said the planning process was very transparent and ensured all applicants were fairly treated.

Meanwhile, Tesco is still awaiting a decision from An Bord Pleanála on its plans to open a 2,480sq m supermarket on the Limerick Road, Castleisland. In February, Kerry County Council voted against a material contravention of the local area plan for Castleisland which would have cleared the way for a planning application by Tesco.

An appeal was then lodged with An Bord Pleanála by Tesco.

Castleisland FG councillor Bobby O’Connell, a strong supporter of the Tesco plan, said there was massive support in the Castleisland area for the plan.

Irish Examiner

Plan refused over traffic

TRAFFIC congestion and an inadequate water supply in Kenmare, Co Kerry, are among the main reasons for the refusal of planning permission for a controversial development which had been earmarked for the town.

An Bord Pleanála yesterday confirmed it had turned down planning for the multi-million euro Peninsula development which included 300 residential units, a 3,400 sqm shopping complex and a 260-space car park. Almost 150 objections were lodged against the proposal which would have fronted onto Henry Street, in the heart of Kenmare.

The promoters were local business people Peter and Fiona O’Sullivan and Neidin Developments, a company owned by a number of developers. It would have been the biggest development in Kenmare, where property prices have been rocketing in recent years.

Bord Pleanála said the proposal would have given rise to extra traffic resulting in serious traffic congestion.

Also, the development would be premature pending the construction of an inner relief road linking the main Killarney and Kilgarvan roads.

The board further stated that it would also be premature pending an upgrading and improvement of the Kenmare water supply.

Kerry County Council, which had already refused planning for the development, recently confirmed that all new developments had been put on hold until a new €12 million water scheme was provided from the River Sheen.

Irish Examiner

Tuesday 24 July 2007

Public willing to pay to protect heritage

More than two-thirds of taxpayers are willing to pay an average €47 extra per year to protect national heritage sites and amenities, while 92 per cent of people believe it is important to protect our heritage, according to research published yesterday.
However, the number who said heritage protection should not interfere with the provision of necessary public infrastructure rose from 52 per cent in 2005 to 58 per cent in this year's survey.
Overall, the Heritage Council study reveals that safeguarding and improving access to the nation's heritage ranks fifth in the public's list of priorities for additional Government funding.
This places it ahead of considerations such as improvements to the road network and increased support for the visual and performance arts, but far behind spending on improving services in hospital A&E departments.
Some 82 per cent of respondents identified the latter as their main priority for any additional Government spending, followed by spending on refurbishing primary schools (4per cent). Some 2.5 per cent said safeguarding and improving the national heritage should be a priority.

Heritage Council

Fluid state: the west and water

Ireland may already be subject to substantial EU fines for breaches of existing water-quality legislation. However, if development continues at even a fraction of the current pace, a lot more damage could be done before an EU "good status" deadline comes into effect in 2015.
This is not some politician speaking - it's the underlying message in a new State-funded publication. Water Matters, issued by seven local authorities in the Western River Basin District (WRBD), identifies pollution, physical modification of waterways and abstraction of unsustainable amounts of water as being among the main issues affecting quality.
The western river basin covers about one-fifth of the State, with a land area spanning almost 12,000sq km, a 2,700km coastline and a further 4,683sq km of marine waters. The region has more than 5,600 lakes, ranging from less than a hectare to the largest, Lough Corrib, which measures 165sq km.
Galway city's growth rate is putting serious strain on these resources and on waste-water treatment needs.
Efforts by local authorities to recognise this are likely to be subject to political pressure, however. Galway County Council has refused to allow any more home connections to the mid-Galway water scheme.
Fine Gael TD Paul Connaughton says "hundreds of young couples" are being prevented from building homes on family land because of this, while the Luimnagh (Tuam) waterworks supplying this area is being diverted, in part to meet the crisis in Galway city.
The WRBD is seeking public comments over the next six months in response to the publication, which is available at www.westernrbd.ie or through the WRBD project office in Liosban, Galway, 091-746804.

© 2007 The Irish Times

Kildare ‘losing the pollution battle’

KILDARE’S environment has deteriorated in the last two years. A new report by Kildare County Council shows the amount of moderately polluted river channels has almost trebled, from 10% to 28%. But the number of seriously polluted rivers has fallen from a high of 16% in 2004 to 4% last year.
In what cllr John McGinley described as “disturbing reading”, there has been a reduction in full-time litter wardens from six to two. The number of prosecution cases taken for non-payment of on-the-spot fines has also dropped by almost a half in two years.
Cllr Paul Kelly added that the council “must be losing the (pollution) battle when we see percentages like these”.
In the council’s defence, county manager Michael Malone said: “Society must work with us both with litter and the courts. If people have witnessed others carrying out illegal dumping or littering, then they should be willing to come forward.”

Joanne O'Connor
© Kildare Nationalist

North Sligo’s water ‘worse than in Africa’

THE public water supply in the north Sligo area is now worse than it is in parts of Africa for where appeals for funds to provide clean water are now being run, it has been claimed.
An illustration of the poor quality of water in the area is that a machine in Grange supplying a filtered supply can no longer handle it.
The machine at the local Londis supermarket and filling station gave people a cheaper alternative to bottled water, which many people are now using regularly for drinking instead of the public supply.
The machine filters the public water supply and you can buy five litres of filtered water for €1.20. On the first occasion you used you get a free container which you then reuse.
However, having had to turn it off on several occasions because of problems caused by the poor quality of the public water supply, owner Kevin Lowe is now installing a second filter, which will filter the water before it goes into the filter machine.
He said he was talking to the sup-pliers of the machine Crystal Clear to install the new filter at a cost of •1,000. He is also looking at installing a special filter for all the water coming into his premises at a cost of •1,200.
One north Sligo resident who has been a regular user of the machine is David Large from Maugherow. He worked in Africa for a number of years and said that the water supply was not as bad there as it is here now.
“I see Trocaire running appeals for funds to provide clean water for children in Africa but the time is coming when we will be running appeals to provide clean water for children here.
“When I was in Africa the water was never as bad as it is here. There are very high levels of iron in the water and too much iron is bad for you.”
He said he felt particularly sorry for older people who don’t have transport and can’t go and buy bottled water as easily.

© Sligo Weekender

Site on M3 route over 2,000 years old

Archaeologists have learned that the national monument discovered during works on the M3 motorway at Lismullin, Co Meath is more than 2,000 years old.
A number of stake holes that would have formed an enclosure were discovered by archaeologists working on the controversial site and radio carbon dating has indicated they have been there since the Iron Age.
"Right now we are interpreting the site as being an open air ceremonial enclosure. Once we begin excavating we will know a lot more," said Mary Deevy, project archaeologist with the National Roads Authority.
The recent spell of bad weather has delayed the archaeologists' progress at Lismullin but contractors Eurolink remain confident that the works will be carried out appropriately and on time.
"The next step will be a geophysical survey of the enclosure once the weather improves. As soon as that is carried out we can begin excavating the enclosure," Ms Deevy said.
An underground souterrain from about the 10th century has also been discovered on the site. Archaeologists said it was possibly used for defence during the Viking invasion.
Once the excavation is complete the building of the motorway will commence and the monument will be preserved only by record.
Protesters against the M3 development continue to gather at the Lismullin site.
Earlier this week there were heated exchanges between protesters, construction workers and security personnel. The exchanges resulted in seven arrests.

Steven Carroll
© 2007 The Irish Times

Legal action on Rossport camp initiated

Mayo County Council has initiated legal action against the Rossport solidarity camp which was established over two years ago to support opponents of the Corrib gas project.
An interim order against several named members of the camp was obtained by the local authority on Friday night under section 160 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, on the basis that the camp is "unauthorised".
A Mayo County Council spokesman said the action was being taken after a "number" of complaints had been received, including one from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
The spokesman said the NPWS was concerned about the impact of the camp on the sensitive dune system at Glengad.
In Castlebar Circuit Court this morning Judge Harvey Kenny said the Court will make a decision next week on an application for an interlocutory injunction seeking the closure of the Rossport solidarity camp which houses activists opposed to the Corrib gas project.
John Kiely BL applied for the injunction on the grounds that the camp was "unauthorised" as no planning permission had been sought or received for it and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) was concerned about the impact of the camp on an ecologically sensitive sand dune system.
The application for the interlocutory injunction was made yesterday against four named defendants: Mark Robinson, Eoin Ó Leidhin, Bob Kavanagh and Niall Harnett.
Mr Harnett told Judge Harvey Kenny they understood they had implicit authorisation and explicit approval from the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) and the NPWS.
They were never informed that the camp was considered to be an unauthorised development and no warning letter was issued.
The camp was established in June 2005 in support of the families of the five men for 94 days over their opposition to the Corrib gas pipeline.
Initially based at Rossport, the camp was then moved close to the foreshore at Glengad about 18 months ago. The camp is constructed of recycled material, uses composting for waste and solar panels provide power. A camp spokesman told The Irish Times that it had built up a very good relationship with the NPWS and with locals.
NPWS staff had visited it on a number of occasions and given advice on constructing pathways and minimising environmental impact on the machair dune system, he said.
John Monaghan of the Shell to Sea campaign said he was puzzled by Mayo County Council's action. "The area is sensitive, but we don't see why the camp should be moved when a destructive project involving a high pressure pipeline can run through," Mr Monaghan said.
"The camp members have always been more responsible that the Corrib gas developers." Shell E&P Ireland said that it had no comment as the issue was one for Mayo County Council.
Mr Kiely denied that the council was "aggressive", saying that it was quite entitled to act under Section 160 of the Planning Act 2000. on the grounds that the development was unauthorised and irreparable damage was being caused to the local environment.
As regards the residents of the camp, he said "these people may have a genuine protest, but they stand before the court in no different light to anyone who carries out an unauthorised development".
The judge said that he was conscious that there was an unauthorised structure at the camp but he explained that he still believed that the defendants were entitled to consult with their lawyers but "not for any great length of time".
He explained that he would make his decision on Tuesday, July 31st.
In the meantime, the interim order would remain in place, with the local authority giving an undertaking that it would not be enforced before the court hearing.

Tom Shiel & Lorna Siggins
© 2007 The Irish Times [Edited]

Schoolboys soccer club left homeless after zoning decision

THE use of land by local sports clubs at the former Avon factory in Portarlington hangs in the balance this week, despite the county council zoning it for amenity use.
The land had been used by Portarlington GAA Club, Arlington Schoolboy’s Football Club and Portarlington Athletics Club.
Three weeks ago Laois County Council voted to zone the disputed lands for amenity/open space purposes, against the wishes of its owner Pat McCormack, who had sought to have it zoned for industrial use, with the proviso that he would allow over three acres be used by the local school-boys’ soccer club and the athletics club.
A meeting was held last week, attended by parents and club officials of Arlington Schoolboys’ Football Club, in a desperate bid to persuade councillors to reverse the zoning decision.
The club’s chairman Jack Kenny said the club had sent a letter to the council supporting the landowner’s submission seeking to retain the zoning of his lands for industrial purposes.
“He looked for our support and promised us three-and-a -half acres and we nearly took his hand off. We supported his application. Our letter of support was included with his application.”
He said the club had made an agreement with Mr McCormack when he first allowed them the use of the lands eight years ago to vacate it should he request them to do so.
Now, as a result of his zoning application failing Mr McCormack had asked the schoolboys’ soccer club to leave the land, said Mr Kenny. “We have no soccer pitch. The future of Portarlington schoolboy soccer in the town is not now certain. There will be nobody playing on Mr McCormack’s lands. There is no place in Portarlington for schoolboy soccer next season,” he said.
Mr Kenny said the club could play all their matches away from the town but that would prove too cost-ly.
Only one of the four local county councillors attended the meeting. That was Cllr Paul Mitchell (Progressive Democrat)
“All he (Mr McCormack) wanted was the land be zoned. It was proposed by Fine Gael councillors to be zoned a green area,” said Cllr Mitchell.
He said some members of Portarlington GAA wanted the zoning changed to amenity. “It was party politics. Mr McCormack was looking for very little,” said Cllr Mitchell.
The local GAA club were recently taken to court by the landowner who was successful in his case to have them removed from him land.

Friends of the Irish Environment

Green light for Ballina bridge

AN BORD Pleanála has given the go ahead for a new €1m. pedestrian bridge over the River Moy in Ballina.
The bridge will cross the river upstream of the salmon weir and will tie in with amenity and recreation developments in the area.
An appeal had been taken to An Bord Pleanala by Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment who asked the Bord to direct Ballina Town Council to prepare an environmental impact statement on the project.
An Bord Pleanála said that having considered all submissions and observations made to it and the report of their own inspector it was considered the proposed development would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment.
Mr Noel Burke, senior engineer, yesterday (Mon) welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála and added that he was satisfied all along the Council had carried out its statutory obligations.
He added that they would now make arrangements to have the bridge constructed as quickly as possible.

© Western People

Gormley directs council to rescind rezonings

Monaghan County Council is being directed by Minister for the Environment John Gormley to rescind land rezoning decisions taken by councillors against planning advice when they adopted the county development plan last March.
Using his powers under Section 31 of the 2000 Planning Act, the Minister has issued a formal direction instructing the council to amend its development plan "in the interests of ensuring the future sustainable development of the county".
He concluded that the Monaghan County Development Plan 2007-2013, as adopted, "does not support the objectives of the National Spatial Strategy, the Regional Planning Guidelines for the Border Region or the Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines".
Accordingly, Mr Gormley had decided to act within the rarely used powers conferred on him under the 2000 Planning Act "to protect the national interest and ensure proper planning and sustainable development" by issuing his direction.
It requires the council to rescind rezonings in 29 villages by reverting to the zonings set out in the draft development plan drawn up by the county planners in March 2006, and to make the necessary amendments to the Co Monaghan housing strategy.
The council must comply with this direction by the council by amending its development plan as instructed. The 2000 Act states that, in exercising their powers, the county manager and councillors cannot do so in conflict with the terms of the direction.
"Councils have a duty and obligation, when making development plans, to ensure that the greater common good will prevail from their decisions and that the future development of their areas is based on sound planning principles," the Minister said.
His action follows the rejection of submissions by his department raising serious concerns about the level of zoned land proposed in the plan - enough to cater for a 182 per cent increase in Co Monaghan's population over its six-year term.
In a letter to the council, Mr Gormley said the rationale for this level of population increase, which would be equivalent to the projected population growth for the entire Border region in the period from now until 2020, "cannot be substantiated".
He pointed out that this was not consistent with his department's development plan guidelines, which state that the level of zoned land should be based on an objective assessment of future development and population increase.
"The practice of zoning for residential development in a sporadic and haphazard fashion in random greenfield sites, which extend outwards from villages and do not have the necessary services . . . does not conform with proper planning principles and is not sustainable."
Although the council had omitted proposed rezonings in areas prone to flooding, such as Ballybay, it upheld numerous others. The leading opponent was Cllr Vincent P Martin, then an independent, who ran as a Green Party candidate in last May's general election.
The Minister also expressed his dissatisfaction with the council's rejection of the department's advice to use the distinction between Clár and non-Clár areas as a basis for distinguishing between weaker rural areas and others under strong urban influence.
"This omission runs counter to the Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines, which recommend that a more selective approach to the granting of one-off planning permissions should be applied to rural areas under strong urban pressure," he said.
A balance needed to be struck "between facilitating rural communities to meet their own internal housing requirements by allowing a certain number of new dwellings and avoiding large-scale and widespread suburbanisation of the countryside", Mr Gormley added.
The council has also been told to adopt "appropriate planning policies" to areas surrounding Monaghan town, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney which are under urban pressure.
Clár is an investment programme for rural areas in 18 counties which suffered the greatest population decline from 1926 to 2002.

Frank McDonald
© 2007 The Irish Times

Carbon offsets bought for Ryan's US air flights

The Government is to buy carbon offsets for the first time to cover the carbon dioxide emissions caused by a business trip this week by the newly-appointed Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, to the United States.
The Irish Consulate in New York has also bought subway tickets for Mr Ryan and his officials when they travel around Manhattan, rather than the luxury Lincoln limousines favoured by visiting ministers.
The carbon offsets, costing €437.64, are being purchased from environmental group, myclimate.org, which invest in projects in the developed world that cut C02 emissions.
The offsets bought cover the emissions from business class trips by the Minister and four officials for three flights: Dublin to New York; Washington to Newark and Newark to Dublin, the Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources said last night.
The Government intends to put its own system in place to compensate for the environmental damage caused by ministerial flights, which will include planting mature trees in urban areas, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has already said. Mr Ryan's Green Party colleague, Minister for the Environment John Gormley is to bring a memorandum to Cabinet on the issue in coming weeks, it is understood.
On Tuesday, Mr Ryan will visit the Emerald Isle Immigration Centre in the Bronx, followed by a meeting with the Aisling Emigrant Advice Centre in Yonkers and, later, he will meet with "undocumented" Irish in Eileen's Country
Kitchen before meeting with the Young Irish Network, alongside Irish developer and philanthropist, Niall Mellon.
On Wednesday, Mr Ryan will meet the most senior elected Irish-American in New York politics, speaker Christine Quinn, and visit Ground Zero. Later, he will meet staff from New York governor Eliot Spitzer's environment and sustainability team, and Dr Rohit Aggarwala, director of the New York mayor's office for long-term planning and sustainability,
He will later meet Irish renewable energy firm, Airtricity and visit Enterprise Ireland's incubator centre in the same building, before dinner with telecom industry executives.
Rather than flying, Mr Ryan will travel by train to Washington for meetings on Thursday with the European-American Business Council (EABC), and representative Ed Markey, chair of the House of Representatives sub-committee for telecoms and member of the sub-committee for energy and air quality.
He will later hold talks with Dick Beaird, deputy US co-ordinator for multilateral affairs at the State Department; Billy Pizer of Resources for the Future and Brian Thompson of Global Telecom.
On Friday, he will meet with the Irish Ambassador, Michael Collins. Afterwards he will have talks with the Federal Communications Commission, and John Kneuer, assistant secretary for communications of the US Department of Commerce.

Mark Hennessy
© 2007 The Irish Times

Climate threat: Emergency-like reaction needed

GREEN Party leader John Gormley yesterday said Ireland should respond to the threat posed by climate change in the way it responded during what was called “The Emergency” in World War II.
In a major speech at the McGill summer school in Donegal, the Environment Minister leader set out his comprehensive priorities for Government, unsurprisingly identifying global warming as the main one.
“My personal belief is that, such is the gravity of the situation, it can only be addressed by recognising now that we have the global emergencies. And emergencies require emergency responses,” he said.
“The sort of response I’m referring to was evident in our own country during what we euphemistically called ‘The Emergency’. During the war what would be considered extreme measures, but which were nevertheless necessary because of the circumstances, were introduced and accepted by the general public.”
Mr Gormley argued that business as usual was no longer an option and that the crisis would mean “major changes in our lifestyles”. He went on to say that it didn’t necessarily mean a reduction in quality of life or standards of living.
He pointed out that the Government had set itself a “challenging target” of a 3% reduction a year on average in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as full compliance with the Kyoto targets.
However, he conceded that the carbon credits were here to stay, though previously the Greens had criticised the Government’s use of them.
“While carbon credits are a second-best solution, they do have a role to play, and along with most other EU member states, we will have to avail of them.”

Harry McGee
© Irish Examiner

Oil, the greatest gift

THE search for alternatives to fossil fuels continues apace. So delegates at Canada's Gas & Oil Exposition 2007 in Calgary, Alberta, were thrilled at the prospect of a presentation from S. K. Wolff, speaking for the US National Petroleum Council - which advises the Department of Energy on behalf of the oil industry - and Florian Osenberg for ExxonMobil.
The delegates were, perhaps, a little disconcerted to hear Wolff declare that current US and Canadian energy policies - including the exploitation of Alberta's billions of tonnes of oil sands - are "increasing the chances of huge global calamities". However, many showed keen interest in his proposal that in "the worst-case scenario, the oil industry could keep fuel flowing". It could do this, he said, by transforming the millions of people who die each year into oil.
"We're not talking about killing anyone," he added. "We're talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change-related effects every year." Thus the two unveiled their "Vivoleum" technology, promising to turn these multitudes of sad events to good use.
They demonstrated the product by handing out candles, which they said were made from the remains of "an Exxon janitor" who had willed his body to the common good. At this point, as delegates held candles smelling of burnt hair and watched the opening frames of the janitor's last video testament, they started to harbour some uncomfortable suspicions.
The truth soon emerged. Wolff and Osenberg are "Yes Men", members of the group that in 1997 registered the website www.gatt.org spoofing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, predecessor of the World Trade Organization. They told the press later that their real names are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno and you can see photos and more at www.theyesmen.org/agribusiness/vivoleum/event/ - the site www.vivoleum.com having been closed for alleged trademark violation.

© New Scientist

RTE star Kenny in land row with his neighbour

PAT Kenny's next-door neighbour is to go to court next week in a bid to inspect lands in exclusive Dalkey at the centre of a long-running dispute with the Late Late Show host.

Retired solicitor Gerard Charlton is locked in a legal battle with the RTE's star broadcaster and his wife Kathy over a piece of land near their homes in south county Dublin.

The proceedings brought by Mr Charlton against the Kennys came before Mr Justice Frank Clarke yesterday but were adjourned to Monday, when the court will deal with Mr Charlton's motion asking the court to be allowed inspect the lands.

When the case was in court last year in an unsuccessful bid to have it heard by the Commercial Court, Mr Charlton claimed the Kennys' had wrongly "annexed" a portion of his lands adjoining their home in Dalkey, Co Dublin.


He also alleged the Kennys' had sought to prevent him gaining access to the lands in question in July 2006 and that, when he did gain access, they had bolted a gate, which prevented him leaving the property.

Mr Charlton (72), Maple Tree House, Harbour Road, Dalkey, claims he agreed to permit Mr Kenny to replace a pedestrian gate at the entrance to the lands in question near Bulloch Harbour, referred to as the Gorse Hill property, which the pensioner claims he had permitted the Kennys to use since they had come to live beside him in 1988.

However, he claims, Mr Kenny subsequently refused to give him the code for a digital keypad installed at the new electronic gate and had also sought on July 27, 2006 to prevent Mr Charlton from gaining access to Gorse Hill.

It was that incident last July which trigged the beginning of legal proceedings, Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told when the case was before him last year via an application to have it admitted to the Commercial Court.

Refusing to admit the case, Mr Justice Kelly said it was about an "unfortunate dispute between neighbours". The issue was whether Mr Charlton was the legal and beneficial owner of the lands and he believed the case would be more appropriately dealt with in the Circuit Court.

Ann O'Loughlin
Irish Independent

Makeover project for Shandon bell tower

A MAJOR project is set to make Cork’s landmark Shandon bells more tourist-friendly.

The Select Vestry of St Anne’s Shandon has applied for planning permission for a range of developments that will make the iconic building on the city’s northside more accessible as well as improving visitor facilities.

Christopher Southgate and Associates plan to open up an existing closed door for fire safety reasons and install a new wheelchair access lift into the protected structure.

But they also plan to install glass screens and educational displays right up through the bell tower.

Tourists and visitors will be able to climb the bell-ringing platform and read about the history of the 1722-built church all the way up.

A metal grill in the bell tower which protects the ‘Four Faced Liar’s’ clock mechanisms will also be replaced with a glass screen.

Church warden John Mustard said it would improve visibility into the intricate mechanisms.

A number of beautiful stained glass windows which are damaged will also be replaced.

Mr Mustard said attempts have been made to replace damaged panes in some of the windows, but church authorities experienced difficulties in matching glass colours.

“This work is being planned following lengthy consultations with city planners,” he said.

“We didn’t want to close the tower during July and August which are the busiest period for visitors.

“So we are hoping to start the work in September, once planning permission comes through.”

These latest developments are the final stages of a series of works which have been ongoing at the church for almost six years. Its stonework was cleaned last year, new safety rails were added to the bell tower and the gilded salmon-shaped weather vane, perched atop the tower, was re-gilded in 2004.

Shandon is open to visitors Monday to Saturday from 10am-4.30pm.

Steep public liability insurance means visitors are charged to ring the bells — €6 for adults and €5 for students and pensioners.

Irish Examiner