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County Council showing scant regard for Killarney

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That budget strategy and LPT (local property tax) meeting in Tralee on Monday, where management’s and Fine Gael’s call for a 5 per cent increase over the baseline was rejected, made for interesting listening.

The increase would have brought an extra €700,000 on the €13.8 million netted by the council from the tax and the extra financial contribution would be on average between €4.50 and €11.25 per house.

Not that the verbal contributions reached Shakespearean heights, but I was reminded of that Shakespearean quote from the very politic Polonius in Hamlet “by indirection find direction out.”

For anyone with half a brain, between the lines and in the telling was the story of a clear division between the wholehearted attention Tralee/Listowel are getting and, dare I say it, the scant regard for Killarney.

Eight of the ten Fianna Fáil councillors voted against the increase sought by FG/management, as did the four Sinn Féin councillors. Independents were split on the vote.

Tellingly, the two Fianna Fáil councillors who broke ranks were from the Listowel area. They were clearly delighted with the works being undertaken in greenways and bypasses and roads and tourism investment and the various improvements in north Kerry villages and in Listowel.

Tralee councillors seemed equally chuffed. And even some of the Tralee councillors who voted against the increase had high praise for “their” council.

And it is very much “their council”. This is a council for Tralee and north Kerry, it is not doing near enough for Killarney and I base my case, without fear of contradiction, on the very document presented to the meeting where the infrastructural projects of both towns were presented in black and white and in just as stark contrast.

Sinn Féin’s Pa Daly, voting against, went so far as to say “all the good the council do is in this document”. He gave examples of the Tralee greenway now going ahead, the homeless unit, and other works. And tellingly, the Tralee councillor said the council are “the primary driver of festivals in the county”. Of course he was referring to the heavy sponsorship and backing of the Rose of Tralee, of the annual food and bloom festivals, not to mention that every single tourism attraction in Tralee is propped up by council staff and council money.

Finally, Cllr Daly lavished praise on the multi-million euro works by the council in Tralee town centre.

There was clear sense at the meeting that Killarney and south Kerry were not happy. Yet only half of the Killarney councillors voted down the increase. However, Cllrs Cronin and Healy-Rae voted against, as did Cllrs Culloty and Kelleher.

“For the last five years it’s talking, talking, talking and nothing happening,” Cllr Cronin said, referring to lack of progress on everything from car parking to potholes.

In the budget strategy documents, a list of projects per municipal district were outlined. But these are the same projects that have been on the agenda with years, Killarney councillors said.

This is the list Killarney councillors were presented with for the town area:

Commencement of the Lewis Road/Áras Phádraig master plan redevelopment (appointment of a project manager underway); Cultural Centre development (tender process being finalised); Progression of the Lough Leane Loop (overall route corridor being finalised); the Flesk Walkway (project shovel ready); Rock Road Car Park (planning approved by members, potential funding application under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund).

Now remember that Killarney contributes more in rates than Tralee, not to mention the €800,000 the Killarney car parks yield to the council.

Now compare the project list for Tralee. These are projects where teams of council officials are involved in getting funding and drawing designs etc; there is massive consultation and huge council and State money and council time, all council led and look closely at my underlined words between the brackets:

Island of Geese (master plan on display, demolition works ongoing); Town Centre Enhancement Scheme (Phase 1, Denny St and the Mall complete); Phase 2 Russell Street etc (preliminary design and costings complete); Tralee-Fenit Greenway (shovel ready); Tralee Fenit Route (phase 1 completed in 2018; land acquisition being advanced); Mitchel’s Regeneration (85 per cent of overall project completed, housing units near completion others advanced and further facilities being advanced).

Clash to Ballymullen Link Road serving new Gaelcholáiste (planning approved and funding source to be identified); Tralee Northern Relief Road (Part 8 planning approved, land acquisition being advanced).

There is only one thing shovel ready in Killarney, everything else here is “-ing” and being – on the long finger in other words - and there is little or nothing actually “-ed” or completed.

Given the black and white document in front of their eyes, given the strongly worded statement from the normally cautious Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism only last week that the town’s whole tourism industry is threatened by the lack of progress by the local authority on relief roads and car parks, how could three Killarney townish councillors, Cllr Michael Gleeson, Cllr Donal Grady and Cllr John Sheahan vote to take even more money out of the pockets of Killarney people no matter how little?

That’s a question that must be asked on the doorsteps around the town next May, methinks. Local councillors are not global ambassadors. With the loss of the town councils they are not even county representatives - they are above all elected locally to represent their local areas.

Their vote is their power – and especially so when the case for Killarney is so strong and so stark. Cllr Grady himself said, “We are not getting our fair share in Killarney and I apologise to no-one for saying that.”

Cllr Gleeson spoke loftily about the fundamental nature of Irish politics and the “aggrandisement of power” and also spoke about the stagnant Lough Leane Loop; Cllr Sheahan spoke about there being no dent in the projects in Killarney and the need for outdoor staff. But all three voted for the increase.

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Rathmore students look to the future

Students in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore looked to the future as they explored third level opportunities. The teens took part in a number of activities to mark College Awareness […]

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Students in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore looked to the future as they explored third level opportunities.

The teens took part in a number of activities to mark College Awareness Week which was held in schools and other education settings nationwide last week.

The focus throughout the week in their school was to highlight the wide range of options open to them when they leave school and to realise that there are pathways to suit all types of learners.

Students from First to Sixth Year took part in activities to get them thinking about their future plans.

First and Second year students completed a module on ‘My Pathways’ and Third Years had an introductory talk on options after school.

Transition Year students worked on a display on all the options and pathways available after school which will remain up permanently.

Senior Cycle students attended the Careers Fair in Munster Technological University (MTU) where they got a chance to meet universities, colleges of Further Education, agricultural colleges, apprenticeship and more education and training providers from around the country including past sudent Aidan O’Mahony at the stand with An Garda Síochána.

Leaving Cert and LCA students had a really informative talk in school on Further Education and apprenticeships from Ella O’Donoghue, Admissions Officer of Kerry College.

The week finished with a talk for Senior Cycle students on Business and Law options in UCC by Ian Wallace.

“A highlight of the week was the involvement of past students, who sent us video clips on their career stories so far and shared tips with students,” Niamh Dwyer, Guidance Counsellor at the school, said.

“It was fabulous to see how well our former students have done and it was really important for our current students to see the diversity of pathways they have taken including apprenticeships, Further Education courses, university, travel, setting up businesses and returning to education as mature students. We are really grateful to the past students who reconnected with us for this week, their input was inspiring and invaluable.”

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Students have education and fun London trip

Leaving Certificate students from St Brigid’s returned home Saturday night after a hectic four-day tour to London. The 87 girls took a tour of London on their first day in the city […]

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Leaving Certificate students from St Brigid’s returned home Saturday night after a hectic four-day tour to London.

The 87 girls took a tour of London on their first day in the city after landing. They visited some of the famous locations on the journey, such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square. They enjoyed a night at the Lyceum Theatre in the West End watching ‘The Lion King’.

The girls went to The Natural History Museum on day two, which has one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artefacts. They took their time looking around the massive cathedral-like structure’s sculptures and frescoes. Four coloured zones that focus on topics including the environment, evolution, the planet, and wildlife make up the museum’s divisions. They then took pleasure in a trip to the fascinating Science Museum. It was the ideal location for someone with an inquisitive mind, full of amazing things to do and explore.

The Victoria and Albert Museum was the next stop on the itinerary. The V&A’s collection of art spans 5,000 years, from prehistoric periods to the modern era. The Mouse Trap, an Agatha Christie play, was the entertainment for this evening at the St Martin’s Lane Theatre. The play’s 70th anniversary was this week.

On day three, the girls boarded a capsule for a 30-minute spin of the London Eye and marvelled at the breath-taking sights of London. After that, they went to the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Planetarium and Astronomy Centre, where they experienced an amazing adventure through space. They went to the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, planting one foot on the eastern and the other on the western hemisphere of our planet.

The girls ended their evening at what was a highlight for many at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

On the final day before flying home, the girls went to Oxford Street to do a spot of shopping.

“A great trip was had by all where many memories were made,” said Sheree Murphy, one of the teachers who travelled with them on the trip.

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