Monday 13th Feb 2017
The 24 members of the Council voted unanimously to fight and do all in their power to ensure "not an inch" of Kilkenny land or any Kilkenny people will transfer to Waterford. The Members are demanding a meeting with Minister Simon Conveney, in whose hands the decision on whether to act on the recommendation now rests.
Cllr Michael Doyle says that Minister Coveney himself is from "somewhere" a place that he calls home and is calling on him to respect the wishes of the people of Kilkenny, who have let their views be emphatically known during the public consultation process.
A letter setting out the Council position will be sent to the Minister today by Cathaoirleach Cllr. Matt Doran. Whilst all accepted that the Fine Gael members of the Council will ably represent the views of the people of Kilkenny when they meet the Minister today, the full Council wish to have the opportunity to have their say with the Minister.
Cllr Joe Malone quoting Jim Freeman, Secretary of the GAA supporters club "The rights of the people of Kilkenny must be protected" says we have to do all in our power to ensure that our peoples identity is protected.
Cllr Tomas Breatnach fails to understand how anyone could draw the conclusion that there are "inherent rivalaries so significant" that we cannot work with our colleagues in Waterford. This is not the case and Cllr Breatnach outlined many diverse partnerships currently working with Waterford, paying particular attention to the logo for the recently formed Ferrybank Tidy Towns committee, two Ferrymen, representing Waterford and Kilkenny, rowing together, working in partnership, for the good of the people of Ferrybank, Kilkenny and Waterford.
Councillors heard that the extension is not required to facilitate the growth of Waterford, as the current Waterford City Development plan outlines that Waterford City has enough serviced and zoned land to meet the growth needs of the City for the foreseeable future. The existing Planning Land and Urban Transport study, adopted by Waterford and Kilkenny back in 2004, to cover up to 2020, sets a strategic framework for the area. It facilitates growth and housing development on the North side of the Suir without any change needed to the Boundary. Preparation of a revised PLUTS 2020-2040 is being worked on.
The recommendation is even more difficult to understand given that the Committee found that there will be "little or no savings in the cost of providing services". In fact there will be additional costs, as the Committee accepts that Kilkenny will need to make arrangements to provide services as its current base in Ferrybank and the old depot in Newrath will transfer to Waterford.
The Committee also concluded that services are delivered efficiently in the area.
In these circumstances it is difficult to fathom why this issue is even on the Agenda. Many of the elected members expressing the view that the focus should be on addressing real issues for the Region, the Cath Lab for Waterford Hospital, the Technological University of the South East, the Region having the lowest education attainment of any in the Country. Many felt the Minister should be focussing his attention on the real priorities for the people, housing and homeless receiving particular mention.
Cllr Ger Frisby was extremely upset at the suggestion that Kilkenny "should be somehow grateful for the fact that Slieverue will not be transferred", particularly when the parish will actually be split, with his own birth home moving to Waterford and his current home staying in Kilkenny. The proposal he says " is so devisive, people in the area are so proud of their identity and any change will leave a very bitter taste".
Cllr Chap Cleere, Chair of the ETB expressed concern regarding the future of Abbey Community College, many of the staff are expressly real concern should this proposal be implemented.
Cathaoirleach, Cllr Matt Doran will today write to Minister Coveney, setting out the Councils dismay, anger and disappointment and requesting an urgent meeting, Councillors agreeing to make themselves available anytime, anywhere that suits the Minister.