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Town councils could be restored

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Almost 400 submissions have been received on a review of local electoral areas currently underway, and a good deal of them from Kerry in what will be the third review of local government since 2008.

The radical reforms of 2014, introduced by Fine Gael Minister Phil Hogan, in the Local Government Reform Act 2014, the biggest in over 100 years, abolished 80 town councils and their powers and with them hundreds of council seats.

Towns were subsumed into new, often huge, geographical areas called Municipal Districts and with them went the urbane tradition of 115 years of town halls, town clerks, town mayors and chairmen, and most importantly revenue-raising powers.

Most of the rates struck and raised locally were spent within the town boundaries with towns fighting against the handover of too much of what they raise to the county council.

But right from the start, the reforms attracted criticism. At a time of cuts in local authority funding, main towns had to share out their crews and finance among smaller towns and villages miles away.

And not least in Killarney.

There was a need to re-imagine town councils. They were too big. There were too many men. Killarney was a case in point. The last town council had all men.

The new reforms won’t bring back the old structures. However, there is a move by Brendan Howlin in the Labour Party which might see to that. If it gets support.

The terms of reference drawn up by Minister for Local Government and Reform John Paul Phelan are to reduce the size of territorially large local electoral areas, limiting councillor numbers to a maximum of seven.

And, in an apparent reversal of the previous policy, there is a specific focus on local areas focusing around towns.

But Labour’s Brendan Howlin says the review, which is to report back this May/June, and implemented in time for the 2019 local elections will not bring back town councils and will not repair the damage of 2014.

And Mr Howlin says what the minister is creating are “notional” new areas for the town.

Phil Hogan’s reforms damaged his own town, Wexford (where Mr Howlin was a former mayor) and left towns at the mercy of rural councillors. Allowing his cabinet colleague to abolish town councils was one of his great regrets as a Labour Minister in government.

“It was one of our significant mistakes. Phil Hogan’s reforms dealt a significant blow against democracy,” he told me.

The Labour leader is introducing a new piece of legislation in a matter of weeks which, if supported, will see the full restoration of town councils as legal entities before the 2019 local elections.

“The Restoration of Town Councils Bill” currently being finalised will seek to repeal sections of Phil Hogan’s 2014 Act so all the main powers of the old town councils would be restored.

Towns are the primary economic drivers and the legislation will restore their rate collecting powers, Mr Howlin says.

Town mayors would also be restored. In Wexford, the last three chairmen were from rural areas, he points out.

A previous bill by Fianna Fáil to appoint a commission to pave the way towards working towards the restoration was passed narrowly last October. But it did not go far enough. Mr Howlin says and hopes Fianna Fáil will support his full restoration bill. He has already met with cross-party deputation of councillors on the issue and he would hope to get support, too, from Sinn Féin.

Will he get support? If he does, it will help resurrect Labour. The abolition of the town councils diminished a means for people to go into politics.

Finally, had there been more women on the town council in Killarney, or even in the county council, or even in the Dáil or Senate (all eight are men), I am certain we would have more pedestrian crossings into our National Park. We still haven’t a crossing from Beech to Mission Road in by the Monsignor O’Flaherty monument. We still have no pedestrian crossing at the new entrance.  We still have no crossing on Beech Road to access the car parks from the supermarket. Women with trolleys, prams and out walking have long ago seen the need for these.

At this stage, it seems we will have an outer ring road before we can achieve a few basic road crossings!

 

 

 

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Applecroft B&B named in Ireland’s Top 10

By Michelle Crean What a better way for a local business to celebrate its silver jubilee than to be named in the Top 10 places to stay in Ireland especially as they prepare to reopen after the pandemic. Owners Kathy and Don Brosnan, who run Applecroft House in Woodlawn, were named number 6 in Ireland’s […]

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By Michelle Crean

What a better way for a local business to celebrate its silver jubilee than to be named in the Top 10 places to stay in Ireland especially as they prepare to reopen after the pandemic.

Owners Kathy and Don Brosnan, who run Applecroft House in Woodlawn, were named number 6 in Ireland’s Top 10 B&Bs for 2022 by the Irish Independent ‘Reader Travel Awards’ while Ireland’s Best B&B was named as Dingle’s Pax House.

The couple began their business in 1997 and are very happy with the feedback from visitors who voted for their B&B, especially after two difficult years.

“I’m thrilled, especially as we’re celebrating our silver jubilee this year,” Kathy told the Killarney Advertiser.

The couple built their house in the early ’80s and aptly named it ‘Applecroft’ as it was built in a field which has an orchard.

In the late ’90s they opened five spacious rooms up, each with its own theme; 
‘Poet’s Corner’, ‘Past Times’, ‘The 19th Green’, ‘The Race-goer’s Club’ and ‘The Kerry Way’, for guests as Kathy, who worked in The Europe Hotel and the Great Southern Killarney for many years, had a passion to bring a great stay experience to guests visiting Killarney. They kept themselves busy planting in their two acre garden during the pandemic.

They have won numerous awards over the years and have had film crews in but this latest award is the icing on the cake for the couple who are looking forward to reopening in late March.

“It’s amazing, and a bonus especially with the two years we’ve had. We’ve never experienced anything like that. It was “wow” – we were preparing to reopen on St Patrick’s Day that year and all of a sudden everything closed down on the 16. It was a big shock.”

Don creates amazing bread and scones which guests rave about, she added.

“I was delighted as we came tenth for breakfast and sixth for the B&B.”

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Tributes paid to life-long Legion supporter

By Sean Moriarty Legion GAA Club has led tributes to one of their most ‘fervent’ supporters who passed away on Tuesday. Described as one of the town’s ‘old stock’, Tim Looney from Coolgraine Park and late of Daltons Avenue, was a central part of Killarney’s rich sporting heritage. As well as a life-long supporter of […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Legion GAA Club has led tributes to one of their most ‘fervent’ supporters who passed away on Tuesday.

Described as one of the town’s ‘old stock’, Tim Looney from Coolgraine Park and late of Daltons Avenue, was a central part of Killarney’s rich sporting heritage.

As well as a life-long supporter of Legion, he played basketball in the famous town leagues of the 1970s and the seven-a-side soccer ‘Wipeouts’ competitions.

“He was a very proud Legion man and always flew the green and white flag out his window whenever the club was playing in a big game,” PRO Enda Walshe told the Killarney Advertiser. “He was a fervent loyal club supporter but was also one of the characters of the winter basketball leagues.”

Tim was also a regular participant in Dart Pub Leagues back in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tim’s funeral took place today (Friday). He was laid to rest at Killarney Burial Ground after 10am Mass St Mary’s Cathedral.

Tim is survived by his wife Nuala, his children Joanne, Paudie and Timmy, and was a much loved grandfather to Stephen, Makaela, Chloe, Padraic, Keelan, Alex and the late Lorna. He will also be sadly missed by his daughters-in-law Margaret and Sharon, son-in-law Tony, sisters Kathleen, Sheila and Ann, brothers Lewis-John and Paddy, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews, relatives, neighbours and many great friends.

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