Thursday 21 September 2017

Jarveys lose out in 'nappy war'

Court rules in favour of horse 'dung catchers' to keep park manure free

Tim Healy and Anne Lucey

IT has been dubbed the 'nappy war' and now 27 jarveys are considering whether to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The move came after the High Court declared the jarveys must abide by a direction to fit special dung catchers to their horses in Killarney National Park.

The jarveys had bitterly opposed the order, originally made by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), in a bid to rid the park of horse manure.

Mr Justice Liam McKechnie ruled the NPWS was entitled to insist the jarveys use "dung catchers" as part of its duty to manage and maintain the Killarney park.

The judge also said it was a matter of regret that the jarveys had refused to operate the devices even on a trial basis.

The decision was welcomed last night by the NPWS and Environment Minister John Gormley who said the Killarney park, visited by one million tourists a year, had to maintain the highest standards. "A dung-free landscape can only improve the attractiveness of the park for visitors," he said.

But a solicitor representing the jarveys, Paul O'Donoghue -- a brother of TD John O'Donoghue -- said the group would meet to consider the judgment. Complex legal issues were involved and they had not yet seen a written copy of the judgment, but they were always open to talks with the NPWS.

"We must consider all the implications of the judgment and will also be actively considering an appeal to the Supreme Court,'' Mr O'Donoghue said.

Legal fees are believed to be running at several thousand euro per jarvey, and any appeal to the Supreme Court would push the costs even higher.

In proceedings taken against NPWS, the Department of the Environment and Local Government, the jarveys sought an order quashing the regulation which was imposed last year.

Lawyers for the jarveys argued that the NPWS had no lawful authority to impose the condition of attaching dung catchers to their horses. It was also argued that the dung catchers were dangerous and could result in a horse bolting.

The NPWS rejected the claims and said the internal pathways within the park were "consistently fouled" with dung.

Mr Justice McKechnie said yesterday the jarveys had not satisfied him that the imposition of the dung catcher requirement was in any way outside the powers contained in the relevant 1932 Memorial Park Act.

He could not identify any attack on the jarveys' constitutional rights and found no discrimination against them.

The NPWS welcomed the High Court decision, which it said "affirmed" its authority to manage the park.

"The dung can cause cross-contamination from children's buggies, bringing dung into family cars and the Muckross restaurant," regional manager Eamonn Meskell said.

"In addition, it is unsightly and smelly and is not conducive to the national park ethos. We just want to keep the park safe and clean."

Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Michael Gleeson said: "I hope it will be co-operated with and I hope there will be no gloating."

Fine Gael Kerry Senator, Paul Coghlan added: "In light of the ruling, I now strongly appeal for common sense to prevail and for all sides to sit down, talk to each other and get on with bringing this matter to a satisfactory conclusion."

Irish Independent

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