KIO AGM 2024

Keep Ireland Open AGM, 2024.

The AGM of Keep Ireland Open took place on Saturday, 9th. March in Tailors’ Hall, Back Lane, Dublin 8. About 50 people were in attendance.
The main address was given by Lucy McFarlane, a recently retired employee of Shropshire Co. Council in England with responsibility for access and paths and bridleways in that county. She spoke of the fact that some landowners did put obstacles to access in places but that she had law on her side in terms of tackling those problems. She mentioned that they have maps developed which show where exactly the paths and bridleways are located. All in all her talk demonstrated how far Ireland is behind the curve in terms of guaranteed access to the countryside.
Several politicians who are favourably disposed to the idea of having legislation enacted to protect and extend access to the countryside attended the AGM. They were Patrick Costello, TD (Green Party), Senator Emer Currie (Fine Gael), Cllr. Angela Feeney (Labour Party) and Anthony Hill (Sinn Féin Local Election Candidate). Senator Currie spoke of the problem of extending access for walkers to the Strawberry Beds section of the Liffey Valley while Cllr. Feeney spoke of the access issues at Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare.
Niall Lenoach of the Enniskerry Walkers’ Association spoke of the efforts to raise money to cover their legal expenses arising from the court case which barred him and Noel Barry from accessing the Old Coach Road near Enniskerry. Niall pointed out that an appeal to the European Courts might remove the legal costs.
Other problem issues were discussed including the blockage of access to certain graveyards, the stalemate regarding access to Fenit Island in Co. Kerry and the access problem at Wicklow Head. The AGM was reminded of the late Michael Murphy’s advice to fight the erection of barriers on the lack of planning permission for them.
The following officers of Keep Ireland Open gave their annual reports: Robert Dowds (Chairperson), Judy Osborne (Company Secretary), Eric Conroy (Treasurer), Tony McDermott (Webmaster) and Robin Bailey (Membership Secretary).
The following was outlined as a scheme of work for the following year:

1. Write a draft ‘Heads of a Bill’ about access to the countryside to present to as many political parties as possible.
2. Lobby political parties to include a promise to enact appropriate legislation protecting and extending access to the countryside after the forthcoming General Election to happen in late 2024 or early 2025.
3. Examine the documents on Rights of Way held in storage by the Dept. of Agriculture in Portlaoise.
4. Create What’s Ap groups for the KIO Committee and for the general membership of KIO.
5. When appropriate, organise protests or meetings to highlight situations where access is being denied or restricted.