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Locals assert their right of way on fenced-off land

GARDAI maintained a presence at a seaside village yesterday as locals asserted their "right" to enjoy a coastal pathway, writes Majella O'Sullivan.

More than 300 people turned up at Fenit Island in Co Kerry to protest against the erection of a fence on private property. It blocks off a pathway that protesters claim has been used by the community for generations.

Matt Hopper of Fenit Island Access Community Group said the fence had caused a bitter divide and that people were angry at being denied the freedom to walk around the island.

"It has caused a lot of resentment locally," Mr Hopper said. "All we're looking for is access to the path, so we can walk around the perimeter of the island.

"We would welcome the opportunity to sit down with the landowners involved to see if we could even reach some kind of compromise."

Signs on the electric fence warn: "The lands beyond this barrier are private property. If you proceed further you, will be committing an act of trespass."

The landowners involved in the dispute declined to comment.

Irish Independent