KILLARNEY Town Council is to proceed with plans to open a new entrance into Killarney National Park, despite local concerns that it could lead to increased instances of vandalism.
The Mission Road entrance will incorporate paving, stone piers and a gate and will be next to the Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty monument which is to be unveiled at the end of the month.
It will lead directly from the New Street Car Park area and the green light was given following the completion of the Part VIII public consultation process. Submissions were received from the NRA, Inland Fisheries, Killarney Nature Conservation Group (KNCG), Killarney Environs Protection Group (KEPG) and An Taisce.
An Taisce, the environmental watchdog group, was not happy with the idea of opening another entrance into the park.
"There have been problems with vandalism in this part of the National Park and it would be desirable, for security reasons, to have the minimum number of access points in the vicinity of Killarney House," Catherine McMullin of An Taisce said.
Pedestrian safety and traffic concerns were also raised by An Taisce as well as by the local environmental groups. Norma Bartlett of KNCG said it could be a "recipe for disaster" for pedestrians crossing a busy road while Patricia Hanley of Killarney Environs Protection Group said there were already four or five entrances along Mission Road.
Despite these objections, Killarney Town Council insists the entrance will facilitate visitors to Killarney House who can park in the New Street Car Park and an uncontrolled crossing point is provided on the western side of the junction of Mission and Beech Road. At last week's town council meeting Town Clerk Michael O'Leary said the executive intended to proceed following the public consultation.
The clerk received full support from councillors, with Cllr Sean O'Grady saying that it was an ideal access point for the ornamental gardens at Killarney House which are due to be recreated.
"I don't believe the national park should be hidden away and we should do everything we can for ease of access," Cllr Michael Gleeson added.