Fine Gael Kildare South TD Martin Heydon has today (Friday) said that legislative change may be needed to more fully address the issue of illegal encampments on the Curragh Plains.  This follows discussions he has had with Gardai and Department of Defence officials in recent weeks as a number of recent encampments were dealt with.

“Illegal encampments on the Curragh are an annual occurrence, particularly at this time of the year, causing huge frustration and distress to residents in the area and those who use the Curragh Plains for recreational purposes.  The Gardai and Council officials have been very responsive in dealing with the issues as they arose in recent weeks, but I believe we may need to see a strengthening of legislation in the area to ensure that the issues can be dealt with more fully.

“The current powers of the Gardai Siochana in this area as provided under the Criminal Justice Act (Public Order) Act 1994, inserted by the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002 allow individual issues to be dealt with on a short term basis.  However they do not give the gardai sufficient powers to ensure a longer term solution.

“This is an issue that will be addressed at the next meeting of the newly established Curragh Forum which allows the Gardai, Department of Defence officials and County Council officials to sit around the table together to address issues affecting the Curragh Plains.  Should the forum recommend a review of current legislation in the area, I will work with Minister Paul Keogh to ensure it becomes a reality.

“The cost of maintaining the Curragh Plains area exceeded €300,000 last year which included the cost of cleaning up after illegal encampments.  The Plains is one of our best resources in Kildare from a recreational, tourism and bloodstock point of view and we need to ensure it is protected and secured as much as possible.