07 Oct 2022

Councillor proposes having north Leitrim declared a national park

Justin Warnock

The Yorkshire Dales - Cllr Warnock is suggesting the creation of a National Park in North Leitrim along a similar structure to that already in place in areas like the Dales in the UK.

Cathaoirleach of Manorhamilton Municipal District, Cllr Justin Warnock is calling for the Council to investigate the possibility of having north Leitrim designated as a National Park.

Speaking at the recent Municipal District meeting, Cllr Warnock said that he was basing his idea on the structure of national parks  in the UK such as the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.

"The north Leitrim area is an area of outstanding natural beauty in its entirety," he said, adding that he believed having it declared a national park would "be phenomenal and would create many new jobs".

Director of Service, Corporate Service and Housing, Mary Quinn pointed out there are six National Parks in Ireland - Wicklow Mountains National Park, The Burren National Park, Killarney National Park, Glenveagh National Park, Connemara National Park, Ballycroy National Park.  

She explained that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has set strict criteria for use of the term"national park" and  added that the overseeing department for national parks in Ireland the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Ms Quinn said that national parks in Ireland, in the main, are generally areas of land which are in public ownership or, alternatively, are under the control of the Office of Public Works. This was not the case with north Leitrim.

Cllr Warnock explained that this was simply an idea and he hoped that the proposal could be investigated to see if north Leitrim meets the criteria. 

While Cllr Mary Bohan said that she was not against the proposal, she admitted had some reservations.

"I am worried that something like this will lead to further planning restrictions in an area where it is already very difficult to get planning," she told the meeting.

"But I wouldn't be opposed to finding some way to investigation this proposal so that we (the councillors) would be in a better position to make up our minds on this."

The local authority will not seek clarification on the proposal and its possible impact from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

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