Kildare South Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon has said that the recent meeting of the Curragh Forum held on 12th January was long overdue and more actions are required from the Forum in 2018. He was speaking following a response he received to a parliamentary question from Minister for Defence Paul Keogh.
“In his response Minister Keogh provided me with an update following the meeting of the Forum on 12th January. Progress has been made as the forum heard a new lands management team is to be put in place in 2018 to oversee all activities on the ground. This is something I have fought for over the past year and their duties will include litter, sheep branding, patrolling, monitoring users of lands, inspection of property boundaries, engagement with the public, and a proposed new role of engaging in education and outreach. A new environmental maintenance contract will also be sent to tender shortly.
“While it is positive that the group have met, we need to ensure that pressure is kept on for more actions to progress in 2018. It is not good enough that there was no meeting in 2017 and while 2018 has gotten off to a better start we need to see progress on the key areas of concern or the Forum will not be carrying out the role for which it was established.
“The other issues discussed at the meeting included legislation, traffic, signage and parking issues, illegal encampments, sheep grazing rights, and the ongoing land management and maintenance of the Curragh Plains. A work-programme was established for 2018 dealing with the areas under discussion and will be supplemented by new issues arising.
“In addition, I will be working closely with KCC officials as they work in conjunction with Kildare Failte to produce a vision document for the Curragh Plains. “
Wording of Parliamentary Question Response
For Oral Answer on : 24/01/2018
To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will provide an update on the most recent meeting of the Curragh Forum; the areas addressed and actions taken arising from the meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Curragh Forum was established to provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to consider and progress a wide range of issues regarding the use and management of the Curragh Plains.
The most recent meeting of the Forum took place on Friday 12 January 2018. It was attended by representatives of the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána, Kildare County Council, Curragh Racecourse Ltd, the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association and Horse Racing Ireland. The issues discussed included legislation, traffic, signage and parking issues, illegal encampments, sheep grazing rights, and the ongoing land management and maintenance of the Curragh Plains. It was agreed that progress in all of these areas requires Forum members to take ownership and work collaboratively in identifying and working towards implementing solutions.
A number of key actions were agreed by the members of the Forum to assist in addressing some of these issues. A work-programme was established for 2018 that will build on the progress made in the areas under discussion and will be supplemented by new issues arising. In addition, Kildare Co. Council has agreed that in conjunction with Kildare Fáílte, it will produce a Vision document for the Curragh that will be presented to the Forum for discussion.
On the work-programme, work has been undertaken in identifying suitable locations for the construction of car parking spaces on the Curragh, thus reducing damage to grasslands. The design and associated costings will be progressed in 2018. A new lands management team will be put in place in 2018 to oversee all activities on the ground including, but not limited to, litter, sheep branding, patrolling, monitoring users of lands, inspection of property boundaries, engagement with the public, and a proposed new role of engaging in education and outreach. A new environmental maintenance contract will also be sent to tender shortly.
A review of the legislation governing the Curragh has highlighted that changes to it will be complex and protracted. It was agreed to advance this in parallel with the use of other legislation that can more immediately address relevant issues.
It was also agreed that more regular meetings of the Forum should take place in order to progress these matters.