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Bats or buildings as Port Road development rejected

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The recent decision by An Bord Pleanála to reject a proposed three-storey apartment block on Port Road, primarily over concerns for the Lesser Horseshoe Bat, brings into sharp focus the escalating housing crisis in Killarney.

This rejection represents not just an environmental victory, but also a significant setback in addressing the acute shortage of housing in Killarney.

At the November meeting of Killarney Municipal District Cllr Maura Healy-Rae, said the shortage of housing in Killarney “has now reached an emergency situation.”

The need for additional housing in Killarney is pressing. There are 1,542 waiting on the housing list in the Killarney Municipal District area as of November 2023, an increase of over 10 per cent from the previous year.

The Port Road project, which proposed 10 apartments on Port Road, was seen as a potential relief to the local housing shortage.

However, the concern for the commuting patterns of the Lesser Horseshoe Bat in the nearby Killarney National Park led to its rejection by the planning board.

This decision, while environmentally sensitive, underscores the growing challenge of finding suitable locations for new housing developments that do not disturb local ecosystems especially adjacent to the National Park.

This housing issue is further complicated by the earlier refusal in August 2022 of a larger residential project of 228 houses, also due to environmental concerns.

The Killarney Advertiser covered this extensively in September 2022 and conducted an online survey. The overwhelming view at the time was that this large-scale development was too ambitious for the area considering the traffic pressure in the area. It is a main access route to Mission Road and secondary schools.

Over 75% of people surveyed disagreed with An Bord Pleanála decision.

Such rejections, though made in the interest of preserving local biodiversity, exacerbate the housing crisis.

The shortage of housing in Killarney is a critical issue that requires urgent attention. The decision by An Bord Pleanála, while respecting environmental concerns, highlights the complexity of balancing conservation with housing needs in urban planning.

This situation calls for innovative solutions, especially for developments adjacent to the National Park in town.

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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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