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Ahern cant see the wood for the trees.

WE might still have the Celtic Tiger, but we're about to lose the Celtic red squirrel, bat, barn owl, otter, and dozens of other endangered wildlife species.

Our little furry friends now face extinction because of forestry, road building, housing developments and farm practices.

If you go down to the woods today, you'll find that otters, bats, barn owls, long-eared owls, peregrines, curlews, hen harriers, red grouse, grey partridge, quail and corncrake have all been killed off in large numbers because of developments.

Today, the Government will finally try and halt a spiral of decline in Ireland's native wildlife. A deadline of 2010 has been set for the campaign to halt the loss of animals, plants, and native trees.

Environment Minister Dick Roche will "tell"  Fianna Fail backed developers, builders, farmers and local authorities they must stop developments that decimate wildlife. The Government is obliged to take the action under a UN convention on sustaining biological diversity. (like F**k they will).

The latest propaganda blitz to cover up Fianna Fail criminality re the environment states that. "For the first time, various sectors such as construction, tourism, agriculture, business and community will come together to take action on biodiversity loss."

It continues: "The IFA, Construction Industry Federation, Chambers of Commerce of Ireland and Failte Ireland have all signed up to work in partnership with the Department's campaign."

But the Government's message for the public to plant a native Irish broadleaf such as rowan and silver birch has been greeted with scepticism by a leading environmental group. 

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) plan to stage a protest at today's Government launch, warning that the massive forestation of the non-native Sitka spruce conifer tree is wiping out wildlife and devastating bogs. FIE says there is no requirement to use any native species in the national afforestation programme, 'Growing for the Future'.

Sitka spruce remains by far the most planted species, and it is not native and not a hardwood. To be economic, it requires large blocks of clearfell that are entirely destructive of the environment and landscape.

The group also cites the European Environmental Agency (EEA) analysis, which showed that 84pc of Irish forestry 1990-2000 was planted on peatlands.

Tony Lowes, FIE spokesman, said: "Planting on our peatlands irreparably destroys these rare habitats and greatly diminishes our native biodiversity, the opposite of what the Government claims it is doing for national biodiversity."

"The afforestation programme target has just been confirmed under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 as 20,000 hectares a year until 2036. Yet not one hectare has to be planted with native species under the current regulations."

Treacy Hogan(Irish Independent)

Stoats, bats and Martin Cullens new train station.

The Red Squirrel. the Irish stoat and the pygmy shrew cause havoc among Fianna Fail Kerry Mafia still lining their pockets (and their pals)

also ‘Excessive’ rezoning putting council at risk of law suits by developers,kerry county manager warns December 2006

And new 26 million Dublin railway station ,but no new capacity in the same old sardine crammed trains.

DESPITE strong warnings from county manager Martin Riordan and senior planning officials, councillors in Kerry are continuing to rezone an excess amount of land for housing, planners have claimed.

Mr Riordan warned the council could be sued in regard to future planning decisions, as land for hundreds more houses than will be needed has been rezoned around villages in the Tralee/Killarney hub.

He described some cases of rezoning as leapfrogging on a "grand scale", saying it was his duty to issue a formal warning that the council could be sued by developers if An Bord Pleanála refused planning permission for the rezoned land.

An Taisce claimed some of the rezonings were for the benefit of the landowners and developers rather than the community, while Independent Councillor Brendan Cronin said it was time for planning decisions to be taken out of councillors’ hands.

Senior planning engineer Tom Sheehy pointed out that the rural village of Kilcummin, near Killarney, would become bigger than the town of Dingle if all land in the area zoned for development was built on. He said Kilcummin already had enough land zoned for the equivalent of 532 houses, or 1,600 people.

But councillors decided, on the proposal of South Kerry Independent Alliance Cllr Michael Gleeson, to rezone another parcel of land, near Kilcummin, which could potentially provide housing for 500 people.

Mr Riordan strongly advised against this rezoning.

However, Independent Cllr Michael Healy-Rae said young people could no longer afford to purchase houses in towns like Killarney and Kenmare. Kilcummin was a suitable area for affordable housing, which was badly needed, he maintained.

Mr Sheehy described as outrageous another rezoning near Beaufort, Killarney.

This rezoning, led by Fine Gael Cllr John O’Connor and Fianna Fáil Cllr Colin Miller, involved seven acres at the foot of the MacGillycuddy Reeks. The land is beside a church and school, but does not form part of Beaufort village.

Mr Sheehy showed a five-minute video of the distance between the village and the land, which, he said, was at least half a mile down a narrow road. There were no footpaths and no lighting.

Mr O’Connor said there were other housing developments in the area and the proposal would include a childcare and educational facility and a playground. There was a need for housing in the area alongside a church and school, he felt.

The Tralee/Killarney hub area includes 20 villages surrounding the towns and is a designated development hub under the national spatial strategy.

Donal Hickey (Irish Examiner)

4. Houses plan is rejected over threat to wildlife

AN BORD Plean·la has refused planning permission for the construction of a 14-house development on the upmarket Ross Road in Killarney.

Killarney Town Council originally granted the development, subject to certain conditions, in April this year.

A third party appeal was subsequently submitted by the late Dr Bill Mangan and his wife, Dr Patricia Mangan, in May.

The proposed project, to be undertaken by Ross Road Developments, featured four different house types of a contemporary design and accommodation set over three floors. Front and back gardens were included for each dwelling.

A report from an inspector with An Bord Pleanala maintained that the site was governed by the policies and provisions of the Killarney Development Plan 2003 and had a particular low-density residential zoning.

Inspector Fiona Tynan also noted in her report that the nearby Killarney National Park was designated as a candidate special area of conservation.

A number of issues were stated in the third party appeal submitted by Mr and Mrs Mangan who argued that the development was in breach of the town development plan, as a wall and widening and resurfacing of the existing internal roadway were outside of the residential zoned area.

In addition, the design and scale of the dwellings were described as being out of character with nearby residences and. It was claimed, it would contravene sections of the Killarney town plan. It was also suggested that the proposed development would interfere with the traditional jarvey, tourist, pedestrian and cyclist route.

A key aspect of the appeal was the report on the environmental impact the development would have on the flora and fauna of the area.

The appellants retained ecolo-gist, Dr Mary O’Connor, to give advice on the site and she stated in her submission that the site accommodated the lesser horseshoe bat, which is protected as a species of European importance under the European Union Natural Habitats Directive. Her report also stated that the lowland red deer herd, which use the site, is recognised as the only true native pure herd in Ireland.

Dr O’Connor concluded that the development of the site would lead to a restriction of habitat for protected species and the loss of buffer for protected species.

"The development would further lead to sub-urbanisation of extant areas of wildlife habitat within the current park bounds," the ecologist added.

In her final assessment, An Bord Plean·la Inspector, Fiona Tynan stated that a number of protected species occur on the site, such as the red squirrel, the Irish stoat and pygmy shrew.

She added that the environ-mental impact report showed that there was frequent activity by a badger social group and that Killarney National Park is the only site in Ireland where all 10 of the known Irish bat species have so far been recorded.

Ms Tynan subsequently recommended that permission for the proposed development be refused.

© The Kingdom

Meanwhile across the border in Bearna County Cork,councillors "of all parties" want to see more preference given to local people who apply to put up houses in areas where building it as present severely restricted to preserve scenes of natural beauty.(F**k the beauty,- we want the houses!) Locals believe that tight regulations are preventing people who want to stay in the area ? from building the houses they need -more to the point- councillors think local people should be able to share the benefits of rising land values and the rush for second homes, by the wealthy Dublin Jackeens.They are also keen to see more building going on to create jobs in areas of high unemployment.

One semi state company (Bord Na Mona) to compensate its workers for income loss due to technical problems in another Semi state company- ESB power station.!

 Bord na Mona workers seek compensation for lost wages 

Bord na Mona workers who suffered personal financial losses of up to €12,000 because of work stoppages at Shannonbridge Power Station are to seek compensation.(December 2006)

Although indirectly employed by the station, stoppages due to faults at the plant have had a direct impact on the Bord na Mona workers who provide peat to Shannonbridge.

Union members estimate the compensation claim to be in the millions following five and a half months of stoppages due to technical problems at the €500 million ESB station.

Stating that it wasn’t Bord na Mona’s fault, Secretary of Bord na Mona Group of Unions, Padraig Mulligan said: "I would have people who would have lost €12,000 in that area".

Breaking down the figures, Mr Mulligan explained that since March, stoppages have meant losses of €12,000 for those in transport at Bord na Mona, €10,000 for team leaders and €5,000 for seasonal workers in the area.

"We will use every and all means at our disposal to see that workers are compensated," he commented.

One Bord na Mona source said: "there’s more turf burnt in your fires at home then there was in the station."

Although Bord na Mona accommodated employees during the stoppages, ‘50 per cent plus of their wages is based on performance’ and it is here where the workers suffered greatly, Mr Mulligan explained.

"This has had a huge affect on the people," Blackwater Union Section Secretary, Philip Casey explained. He said that Blackwater workers had suffered most, but there had been serious implications for workers in Boora as well.

© Offaly Independent

New station but no new train passengers .

THE first train has arrived at Dublin's newest railway station & The 'test train' arrived at the Docklands station yesterday in December 2006 to test track gauge and platform clearance,(read publicity stunt for Martin Cullen) but in just three months, (nice time for the election) the station will be officially opened.

The first city centre station built in over 100 years and at a cost of €26m, Iarnrod Eireann said it will be fully operational by March 12, three months ahead of schedule. It will deliver a "dramatic increase" in peak frequency from west Dublin suburbs such as Clonsilla and Castleknock, as well as developing areas such as Ashtown and the proposed Phoenix Park Station.

Most of the main building work is already completed. Signalling and final fit-out will begin in the New Year.

It will handle 2,500 commuters daily on opening, with potential to cater for up to 10,000 more. What exactly is a dramatic increase in "peak frequency"  and how will the new station deliver this.Do the mean more trains at last.?

 My own family in Ireland often try to board these trains at Castleknock and Ashtown stations and the journey into the city, if the train stops(-as it does not always do so when overloaded) is a sardine crammed nightmare,similiar to the lousy commuter service on other lines such as the Drogheda- Dublin route where fainting passengers are often taken off the train at Balbriggan for medical attention.!.

Fianna Fail January 2007-a brief review

BERTIE Ahern sees nothing wrong with Dail deputies seeking cuts in prison terms or early releases for prisoners who wish to attend, for example, a Confirmation or First Holy Communion. Deputies, he says, have a "humanitarian" role.

We have heard a lot of excuses over the years for the batty way we run our politics, but this one takes beating. "Humanitarian" used to mean helping the Third World. Now it means promoting the codocracy that passes for democracy in our great little country.

Of course we know that "representations" are the common, almost the universal, practice. Councillors, deputies, ministers interfere in everything under the sun.

Tony Killeen says that 200,000 pieces of mail have passed through his Clare office in 14 years. Every communication must get some sort of reply. And if at all possible, there must also be some form of action.

The usual form of action was described many years ago in a famous article by a political scientist, entitled 'Going About Persecuting Civil Servants'. The title came from the exact words used by a politician to describe his role.

Naive and idealistic people could not imagine then that the practice would persist for a generation, still less that the volume of nonsense would swell to its present proportions and absorb so much manpower (and womanpower). The more it grows and the more people it involves, the more harm it does.

It wastes public money in more ways than one. It wastes the time of junior or middle-rank civil servants in much the same way that trying to grapple with the decentralisation fiasco wastes the time of their superiors.

Since time is money, that means that it wastes public money. At the other end of the pipeline, it wastes the time of the deputies and their staffs, all of whom are paid, one way and another, from public funds.

We hear that the person who handled the controversial correspondence in Mr Killeen's office is a councillor. The taxpayer pays councillors' salaries and allowances. Presumably this person also gets a salary, again from the taxpayer, for his work in the minister's office.

But what are councillors elected for? They are elected to carry out certain specific functions. This is not one of them. So much for their role. What of their status?

When a little local difficulty arose in Roscommon once, Mr Ahern "sent a councillor" - his words - to look into it. Yesterday, he said there had been a furore about the incident. That seemed to puzzle him. Evidently he still cannot see that he should have left the issue alone, or that getting a councillor involved did not improve matters.

And the mindset that has given us this system is exactly the same mindset that has given us two of the controversies of the last few days, the "National Development Plan" and the saga of the proposed children's hospital.

Into the NDP the Government has thrown everything but the kitchen sink. But one thing is missing: joined-up government.

There is no strategic thinking and planning, nor could there be any when everybody must have something and every good idea can be smashed or spoiled by lobbying at every level from the constituency office to the most elevated quarters in the land.

On the hospital issue, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health have both been exceptionally firm and exceptionally quick off the mark. They have rejected the appealing proposal from Richard Farrington without any debate, indeed without any consideration, and insisted that the hospital must go ahead on the Mater site.

Mary Harney says the Mater was chosen in a robust and independent process. More interesting use of language here: maybe she picked it up from Bertie. "Robust" used to be a euphemism for dirty work on the playing field. I don't know what it means in this context, though I can have a stab at "independent".

But I do know one thing. When Fianna Fail canvassers engage in their next mass invasion of the doorsteps of Dublin Central, they won't tell the punters that the Mater was chosen by a robust and independent process and Bertie Ahern had nothing to do with it.

Nor will they tell them that the site is too small or that the disruption caused by the construction work and the traffic congestion in the neighbouring streets will be beyond all imagining.

They will tell them that if the people of Dublin Central want something, Bertie will get it for them.

And you don't have to live in Drumcondra to receive assurances like these. Not all that long ago the people of Leitrim got promises from similar sources that they, too, would have piped water. It's there now, and 18 out of 22 group water schemes are contaminated with E Coli from human and animal waste.

The codocracy has given us many a good laugh, but in the last analysis it isn't funny. There is no freedom without order, and no democracy without respect for what we used to call the proper authorities.

Bertie sees nothing wrong with the system. Do any of our other leaders have better eyesight?

                                                         (Irish Independent)