CIE will fight farmer claims to old rail line

Company backs walkway plan

Donal Nolan

CIE is prepared to fight any attempt by north Kerry landowners to claim ownership of the old railway line from Listowel to Kilmorna, the company told The Kerryman this week.

The old railway line has become the focus of a bitter row between the Great Southern Trail (GST) group, who want to develop the line from west Limerick into Listowel as a walking and cycling route, and local landowners who fear it would impinge on their livelihoods.

Representatives of CIE - the parent company of Iarnród Eireann and Bus Eireann - have met in Dublin to discuss the ownership issue with members of the North Kerry Abandoned Railway Line Action Group (NKARLAG) who claim the line was effectively abandoned by the company.

However, CIE does not agree that the disused railway line has been abandoned. "We are the owners of that property," CIE spokesperson Barry Kenny said. "We have fibre optic cable right along it which was laid in the mid to late '90s and which forms part of our signalling operations."

Mr Kenny said that CIE fully supports the GST's aim to develop the disused railway line as a walking trail. "We are prepared to licence it to them for further development into north Kerry from west Limerick." Mr Kenny said, adding that CIE had an 'open and frank' meeting with NKARLAG in Dublin where the company reaffirmed its position regarding ownership of the line, saying the fibre optic cable operation demonstrated their ownership of it.

Liam O'Mahony of the GST is urging NKARLAG to meet a mediator appointed by the Department of the Environment on the matter. NKARLAG initially chose not to meet the mediator as it wished to meet with CIE first. Now that meeting has taken place, Mr O'Mahony is calling on the concerned landowners to meet with the mediator with a view to entering into a discussion about their concerns.

"These people said they owned the property, then they said there were going to go the legal route and now it seems they're not saying anything or speaking to anyone about their meeting with CIE," Mr O'Mahony said.

A number of landowners are fiercely opposed to the route, believing a public way through the land would upset the running of their farms. NKARLAG members do not comment publicly on the matter, however.

GST are now holding a road walk from Listowel to Kilmorna and back on Sunday, May 12, next from 3pm to raise awareness of their campaign.