If you can’t see the video, click here (skip to 3.30 for the part where Healy-Rae calls for the army to be brought in)
AWAY FROM THE furore of other matters of debate in the Dáil in recent weeks, Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae raised a matter of primary importance for his local constituency in the chamber this afternoon – the rhododendron problem in Killarney National Park.
Killarney National Park is being neglected because not enough resources are put into the maintenance and care of it, according to Healy-Rae.
He called on the government to address the range of problems to the facilities in the park, but singled out the rhododendron problem in particular.
The rhododendrons are taking over completely, despite efforts to cut them… The rhododendron situation has gotten so bad in Killarney National Park, minister, that nothing short of calling in the army would put it right.
He asked for more studies to be carried out on the deer population in the park, the decreasing number of park rangers to be addressed and asked for restoration works to be carried out on a number of areas in the park.
We all know Killarney is not the tourism capital of Kerry, or of Ireland, or of Europe. But it is the tourist capital of the world. I want that on record of the house. There is no place better than Killarney, or its National Park.
He asked for Minister Michael Ring to become “our martyr” for the National Park, and increase the resources put into the park. Healy-Rae added that it was important for future generations.
Mayo TD Ring began by “disagreeing completely” with the Kerryman, saying that the best place in Ireland, and Europe, and the world was a place called Westport.
He then responded to the queries by saying that he would do his best to address each of these issues, adding that he had a commitment from government to replace the rangers retiring in the near future.
Ring said the government invests significantly in all of the country’s national parks.
In terms of the rhododendrons problem, Ring said that extensive work would be done to tackle the issue.
He said that over €700,000 had been invested to fight the rhododendrons in the past few years, with €200,000 spent last year alone.
“An updated Strategic Rhododendron Plan is being finalised,” he said, “and the department hopes to publish this in the coming months.”
Ring added that locals in the community could also assist to deal with the problem.
I am calling on the people of Killarney to sit down with the Department to see what support and help they can give to deal with this serious problem in Killarney Park.
Healy-Rae disputed these figures provided by Ring, and said that the money provided wasn’t specifically addressing the rhododendron issue.
“We are losing the war,” he added.