Thursday 21 August 2008

Healy-Rae's son faces wrath of residents in new sand dunes storm

RESIDENTS are furious with a well-known TD's son who was pictured carrying out machinery work at a caravan park in Co Kerry.

Residents in Banna Beach say the work done by Councillor Michael Healy-Rae involves a sensitive dune area and needs planning permission.

The residents say the sand was being taken from the dunes to cover sewer pipes at the caravan park.

But Cllr Healy-Rae said he was not interfering with the area and "was not knocking sand dunes".

The owner of the caravan park, Liam West, said he was entitled to carry out renewal of services work.

"We did nothing unauthorised," he said.

Mr Healy-Rae refused to comment on whether the work he was doing was unauthorised. This was a matter for the owner, he said. He also said his role as a councillor, and that of a machinery operator with his company Roughty Plant Hire, were separate entities.

"Me as a councillor and me doing work are two separate things."

A Kerry County Council spokesman confirmed a complaint had been received alleging that unauthorised work was being carried out at Banna and the council was investigating.

Cllr Toireasa Ferris said she was extremely concerned about the matter "considering the history of the developer" in Banna and that the residents had to fight so hard to have the area protected.

An enforcement order was taken against Mr West after he interfered with the dunes near his caravan park in the late 1990s. He was asked to restore and re-grass the dunes.

The enforcement proceedings prohibits him from laying sewer pipes unless he applies for permission.

The Wests, who have been involved in the caravan park business for over 33 years, were last year refused permission for a "state of the art" 161 static unit park, near their existing 20-unit facility at Banna. It had been granted permission by the council but this was appealed by residents.

A new application for a 60-unit park at Banna, by Peter West, is now before the council.

"In Banna at the moment we have 43 permanent homes and over 600 mobile homes and chalets," Walter Sheehan, chairman of the Banna-Carrahane Environment Protection Residents Group said.

Mr and Mrs West, who live in Killorglin in the Kerry South constituency, last year contributed €2,000 to the Kerry South TD and father of Cllr Healy-Rae, Jackie Healy-Rae, according to the annual report of the Standards in Public Office Commission published in April.

Anne Lucey
Irish Independent

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