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Anger as Port Road development heads for An Bord Pleanála

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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.”

ANGER

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.

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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‘More Precious Than Gold’ book launch

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At the official book launch of ‘More Precious Than Gold: My enduring connection with John McShain – the man who built Washington’ by Alice O’Neill-McLoughlin at Killarney House, was Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, T.D.

Alice was born the eldest of eleven children into an Irish farming family in Rosbercon, New Ross, County Wexford. In 1978, she was awarded a scholarship from John McShain- the iconic builder, philanthropist, devout Catholic with Derry ancestry, responsible for many famous American landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Pentagon.

Her book records the lifelong personal correspondence Alice exchanged with ‘The Man Who Built Washington.’ His philanthropy extended to the Irish people in the bequeathing to the State of Killarney House and the surrounding thousands of acres incorporating the Lakes, Ross Castle, and Innisfallen Island. In 2019, Alice had the honour of inducting John McShain into the Irish America Hall of Fame in her home town of New Ross in the presence of his relatives from Philadelphia and Derry. This is a tale of altruism, of gratitude, of faith and of a life lived in the pursuit of excellence.

Alice also donated her treasured correspondence of letters from John McShain for the archive at Killarney House. Also in attendance were Members of the Ignatius A. O’Shaughnessy family, who was founder of The Globe Oil and Refining Company – and part of a consortium of wealthy American businessmen who were going to purchase the lakes of Killarney as a Country Club in the 1950’s.

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