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Concerns Raised Over Masterplan For Glendalough And Wicklow Mountains National Park

A major new plan to develop the tourism potential of the Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains region, Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains National Park Visitor Experience and Management Masterplan, has been launched by Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan.

Glendalough Hotelier and Fianna Fáil Senator Pat Casey is calling for an immediate re-structuring of the recently launched Masterplan for the area as its ‘implementation partnership’ currently excludes the community which lives and works in the valley.

“I found myself in a very unique position at the launch of the Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains National Park (Visitor Experience and Management Masterplan) as a lifelong resident of Glendalough, operating a family business in Glendalough that predates 1870 and as an elected public representative for the community since 2004, I was filled with very mixed emotions.

On the positive side, after years of campaigning to get the recognition that Glendalough deserves at a national level, this iconic valley needs a strategic vision, a plan that encompasses, the community, the visitor and enterprise experience. There is also a need to curate and protect the rich biodiversity and heritage contained within.

The Masterplan sets out that vision, which was called for in the very first LARAGH-GLENDALOUGH SETTLEMENT AND TOURISM PLAN adopted in 2011, by the elected representatives of the Community.

However on closer analysis of the Masterplan after yesterday’s launch, I am frustrated and annoyed, as a resident, a business operator and as a elected representative for my community of Laragh and Glendalough since 2004, as to how this Masterplan firstly evolved, how it was adopted, and how it is going to be implemented.

This strategy evolved from behind closed doors, the first draft of the Masterplan presented in 2020, excluded any input form the community, and local stakeholders or anybody who lives or works in Glendalough, ever since then we have only had opportunity to amend the Masterplan and not
influence its core objectives. The same group of State bodies who prepared the first draft returned in a secretive manner and adopted the Masterplan using European Regulations to ram it through.

Prior to the launch no public representatives, no members of the community and no local stakeholders had seen sight of the final Masterplan.

This is unacceptable and a clear breach of trust with the community, their elected representatives and local stakeholders.

To add insult to the community, local stakeholders and our public representatives, the establishment of “Glendalough Partnership” to implement the Masterplan comprises only State actors mainly Wicklow County Council, National Parks and Wildlife, Office of Public Works, National Monuments
Service, Failte Ireland and Coillte. They have all signed a Memorandum of Understanding for 5 years which will establish a Steering Group and a Working Group to implement the Masterplan consisting of these state bodies only.

This Partnership will work closely with a Local Advisory Group to be established on a biannual basis.

How they can call this a partnership when there is no room for the critical local community, either at Steering Group or Working Group level? This is a severe breach of trust and basic governance principles and is quite simply unacceptable in the year 2023 and I remind the state bodies that the problems in Glendalough are not coming from the community.

I call on the Ministers involved in this project, and there are a number of them, to direct the State Bodies to immediately amend the Memorandum of Understanding and ensure the community are included in a meaningful way in the implementation of the Masterplan.
This is the only way to restore credibility to this Masterplan and to rebuild trust with the critical
element of Glendalough, namely the people who live there and are lucky to call the valley home.”

You can read the full outline of the plan here

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