I recently introduced a Bill into the Dáil that will legally protect the curragh from dumping and illegal encampments.
For several years there have been ongoing issues with illegal dumping and encampments on the Curragh. They completely take away from its beauty for those who wish to use it daily. Current legislation hinders the ability of the Gardai and Military Police to act appropriately where this amendment to the Curragh of Kildare Act 1961 will make provision for the management to take action against people illegally using the land.
The Bill proposes that anybody who wishes to occupy the Curragh, by having a vehicle, shelter, tent, caravan or other temporary or moveable structure, will have to apply to the Minister for Defence for a licence. This will give extra protection to ensure we will not have illegal encampments on the Curragh. The Curragh is home to the Army and the racing industry. It is a place of great importance from an ecological, archaeological and cultural perspective. It is a great place for local people in which to walk and enjoy as it is bordered by Kildare, Newbridge, Milltown, Athgarvan and Kilcullen.
Local people have a great respect for it. For this and many other reasons, it should have the highest level of protection, while affording the opportunity for people, both locally and nationally, to enjoy its beautiful surroundings.
Ideally, I would like to see it become a national heritage site. I was in touch with the Minister’s office on this issue, but, sadly, it will not happen. That does not mean, however, that I will not pursue it. We could look for UNESCO world heritage status for the Curragh because it is an important focal point in County Kildare.