Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Day Kilkenny Council at last faced the High Court

It is with the joy of great vindication that I bring you news of the High Court… Save Kilkenny vs Kilkenny Council. Last summer, 200 alternating citizens stood firm on an old stone bridge to try and protect the River Nore from the tons of unwashed stone of foundations and the pile driver destruction to the river bed. We were trying to stop the erection of the dual carriageway CAS bridge, straight into the Medieval Mile of Kilkenny City. There were so many reasons it should never have gone on. People stood around in twos and threes and sometimes great gatherings and manned the entrances 24hours a day, for 5 months. 11,000 signatures on a petition, the dedication, the clarity, the arguments, the moral high ground, the financial awareness of how public money should not be spent, the environmental impact to water life and bats. The fact that the bridge was to land nearly on the steps of St Canice's Cathedral, our oldest round tower…oh yes and that planning permission was not granted for a road to meet EITHER END of the bridge. The absurdity was too much to bear and one concerned citizen, Christopher O'Keefe, brought the council to the High Court.

To the council, nothing was worth conserving, they would answer no questions and most county councillors who had been voted in as being 'against' the CAS soon changed their minds. But we are coming to know that elected councillors cannot influence the county management team anyway. Don't worry if you've not even heard of them as you will soon enough … when you ask why something horrible, destructive and only benefiting a very few is being built in your own area!

So back to our court case. I gather the ruling was that Christopher O'Keefe's expenses should be paid and that Kilkenny Council were disallowed their request to carry on regardless. They had tried to back date permission for their practice of dumping stone in the river and it was denied by the court. It is completely insane that the council still get to build the bridge and it is a disgrace the hardship that a citizen had to go through and risk to even get the council to answer to this situation. I myself spent some full nights there, trying to hear the moment when they would try and smuggle the pile driver in - 4am one morning it arrived. The guards were used as heavies for the contractors and went back on an early promise that no one would be charged even if they were 'moved along'. One great councillor, Independent Breda Gardner asked a question about the CAS in the council chambers and was told to retract her statement. Another courageous councillor Malcolm Noonan had been trying to raise awareness for years, of the madness of the CAS scheme and how it had got 'passed' as part of a County Plan.

After this, the rest of the council and government must be coming to see that the people are seeing through their abuse of power. Their crippling plans for individuals and attractive plans for international companies. My personal dream is to stop the 2020 Harvest. It is my least favourite plan as it is a Department of Agriculture plan to increase meat and dairy production in Ireland by 50%, by the year 2020. Down the corridor in the Department of Environment, they are promising that every industry will be carbon neutral by 2020. The two cannot both happen so they might as well have that conversation now before more farm animals are killed and the intensification of farming ruins more lives and land. A bit further down the corridor again, someone is handing over €2million to an English company to kill all our badgers and smuggling in plane upon plane of white mice and other animals for pharmaceutical companies to experiment on. Here in Kilkenny, the council also want to give the animal shelters to a company that profit from the disposal of animals and research. It is as if no one has the freedom to respond. Even when Ireland, a supposedly neutral country, joined NATO last year in Wales, the media were told not to cover it, mention it. I only found out from an American friend who sent me an article from there. Goodness knows what's happened to that elderly lady at the US's Shannon Airforce base…Oh, I mean Shannon Airport! She stood around for years with a sign saying that perhaps American war planes shouldn't land and refuel there. She was carted off to prison and may be there still. We really do have to take the power back and manifest a country where transparency, good sense and kindness are rewarded.

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