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Minister insists 'no plans to sell National Parks'

Jimmy Deenihan’s statement follows a report this morning that suggested jobs could be lost, following a review of visitor services at the six parks.

Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park

Updated at 6.18pm

MINISTER FOR ARTS, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan is insisting there are no plans ‘whatsoever’ to sell the the country’s six national parks.

A statement from the Minister also confirms there are no plans at the moment to “privatise the management, preservation or conservation of these parks”.

The press release from his Department follows a newspaper report this morning on possible changes in the National Parks & Wildlife Service.

The report in the Irish Independent focused on fears raised by an insider in the service that jobs could be under threat as part of an ongoing review of visitor services at the six locations.

In particular, the newspaper’s source raised the prospect that bus driver and guide jobs at Glenveagh Park in Donegal could be outsourced to private operators as part of the current review.

The statement from the Department points out that many services at national parks are already provided by private individuals or companies, “such as the provision of boat trips, pony trekking or jarvey trips”.

“Minister Deenihan’s Department is always looking at ways to improve the tourism and education dimensions and visitor services at national parks,” the statement continues.

The priority is to manage, preserve and conserve the national parks, to provide excellent access and services to the public, and to do so whilst making the best use of the resources we receive from the taxpayer.

As has always been the case, the Department will continue to explore the potential of using alternative models to augment its visitor services and nature education services nationally.

The statement also notes that the “core work” of national park staff, including regional management and rangers, is to secure and preserve the parks “so they can be enjoyed by visitors and conserved for future generations”.

A spokesperson for the Minister told TheJournal.ie that the press release included the assertion that there “no plans – whatsoever – to sell national parks” as the Independent article had included a quote from Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty that a “piece-by-piece” sale of the national parks was under way.

The six national parks in question are: Killarney, Glenveagh, Connemara, Ballycroy, The Burren and the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

First posted at 3.11pm

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