Councillor Malcolm Noonan remains firm in his conviction that the houses on Vicar Street should not be demolished.
The Green Party councillor was speaking in the wake of a meeting on Monday, where historic building consultant Rob Goodbody and county manager Joe Crockett said there was no medieval fabric in the two buildings due for demolition to make way for a Central Access Scheme. Local archaeologists Patrick Neary and Coilin O’ Drisceoil, KAS, and An Taisce have all previously said they believe there is a National Monument that warrants preservation on the site.
Cllr Noonan said he had understood that the joint meeting was to consider the Archaeological Report into the houses and sign off on it. This would have allowed the council to proceed with demolition of the houses assuming the report was accepted by National Monuments Service.
But no report was produced at the meeting, and it has emerged that a final report will not be ready for at least six weeks. A preliminary report is expected to be furnished to councillors in the coming days.
Cllr Noonan asked several questions at the meeting regarding the process. The works are being carried out by Valerie J Keeley archaeological consultants.
“The National Monuments Service requested this trenching as far back as 2008,” asked Cllr Noonan, who says he has not received answers to a variety of questions.
“Why is this only being done now after three attempts at establishing the facts?”
The Green Party councillor has also questioned the level of compliance with the requirements of the EIA Directive. The EU Directorate General for the Environment is currently to investigate this for any possible breaches.
“In my view the important point is that, whether or not No 22 Vicar street is deemed to be a National Monument, to date, there has been no EIA setting out the methodology for demolition and there was no public notice given under the planning process informing the public of the demolition/deconstruction works,” said Cllr Noonan.
“An EIA is required for demolition of a monument and a National Monument. It is incumbent on the decision making authority to ensure that the EIA is fully compliant before giving the go ahead for demolition/deconstruction work. If the National Monuments Service decide that it is a National Monument an EIA for demolition is required and if they refuse to accept it is a National Monument, the demolition work still requires an EIA.”
The campaign opposing the CAS has seen a high level of activist activity in recent weeks, with 6,500 signatures on petitions handed to Mayor and Cathaoirleach, and the largest public protest march on a local issue in recent years.
Cllr Noonan says he will continue to represent ‘the silent majority’ who cannot make their case in the council chambers. He said most members of the public were against the scheme.
“While some councillors yesterday tried to absolve themselves from any responsibility on this wasteful project, espouse their heritage credentials, reminisce about their youth or call for further public ‘consultation’, none can get away from the fact that they are going against the wishes of the vast majority of Kilkenny people; people from diverse backgrounds who are upset and angry that they are not being listened to and that we as policy makers are the only ones with the ability to show leadership and strength of character to rethink the entire scheme and plan collaboratively towards a city that we can all call home and be proud of,” he said.