By Sean Moriarty
Kerry County Council has recommended that planning permission be granted for a controversial development on Port Road despite widespread objections from elected councillors.
Portal Asset Holdings Ltd has lodged planning permission with Kerry County Council for the construction of a development of 76 houses, 56 duplexes and 96 apartments on a greenfield site to the rear of the District Hospital on St Margaret’s Road and to the rear of the traditional cottages on Port Road.
It is proposed to build an access road off the Port Road too.
The proposed development includes upgrade works to Port Road, a pedestrian connection to Millwood Estate, and improvements to the stormwater network on St Margaret’s Road as part of enabling infrastructure for the project.
Last month the application caused anger amongst residents of the area who fear their quality of life will be affected by the development.
The application is set to go before An Bord Pleanála.
On Wednesday, Kerry County Council’s senior planner Damien Ginty gave a presentation on various issues and concerns connected with the application at a Killarney Municipal District meeting.
The 30 page report outlined pros and cons on why the development should or should not go ahead.
“The proposed development provides a mix of housing sizes and types to facilitate a wide demographic of housing need, but in particular provides an increased number of small units which typifies housing demand in Killarney and the surrounding area,” stated the report. “It is recommended that permission be granted for the proposed development.”
Mr Ginty’s conclusion was met with anger from all seven elected councillors. They were unanimous in their calls that such a large development should not go ahead in the area.
And while they all admitted that Killarney urgently needs more houses they felt that there were too many local issues to allow this particular development go ahead in its current format.
One of the proposals is to include a pedestrian access point from the existing Millwood estate into the new development which will include a crèche.
Cllr Niall ‘Botty’ O’Callaghan said Millwood would become a “a drop off point” for parents.
“I am not in favour to the connectivity to Millwood,” he told the meeting, “This is something that this estate does not deserve. I am disappointed by a lot of things in the report – they don’t wash with me. My view is I am not in favour of what is being proposed.”
Cllr Brendan Cronin raised concerns about the potential increase in traffic in an already congested area.
“I have very serious concerns regarding the size and scale of this development on a number of fronts,” he told the meeting. “The scale and size [of the development] with only one access will create traffic chaos in an already busy road. This planning should be downsized to an appropriate level.”
Cllr Maura Healy-Rae was also concerned about traffic issues in the area if the development goes ahead.
“We are well aware of the traffic congestion in that area,” she said. “That road is often gridlocked.”
She also raised concerns about the size of the development. “I am not against housing development,” she added. “But there are issues there in terms of scale, height, number of houses and the impact on traffic.”
Cllr John O’Donoghue echoed his colleagues' concerns regarding traffic in the area “that is already blocked up three or four months of the year”.
He has raised concerns about stormwater drains coming from the site that “will have a colossal impact on the lakes”.
Cllr Donal Grady said the proposal was “a concrete jungle”.
“We badly need houses but what is happening here is ridiculous,” he said.
Cllr Niall Kelleher took a similar stance.
“We need houses but we need it done properly,” he told the meeting.
Mayor Marie Moloney concluded the discussion.
“I am not against housing but I am against the scale of this development. It is too big and too imposing,” she said.
A separate issue arose concerning lands belonging to the Kerry Education Training Board (KETB) which sit adjacent to the proposed development.
It is proposed that two pedestrian/cycle routes will connect the development with ETB’s lands.
Both Mayor Moloney and Cllr O’Callaghan sit on the ETB board and both said that the ETB has not given consent for such a move.
Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes
Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.
The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.
Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.
The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.
“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.
Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate
By Chris Davies
Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.
Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin.
“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”
Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.
While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.
This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.
There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week.
The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out.
On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.
However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.
The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.
Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence.
Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes
Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language. The school signed up to Language...
Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate
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