01 Jul 2022

McGuinness lambasts 'illegal quarries' operating in Kilkenny and Laois

'A small number of people causing devastation in local communities' says TD


File picture: Local TD John McGuinness

Local TD John McGuinness has called for urgent action what he says are illegal quarries operating in Kilkenny and Laois without licence or proper planning permission, causing enormous harm to the countryside.

Speaking in a Dail debate on the Climate Action Bill, Deputy McGuinness said considerable damage was being done to the environment, and local authorities were attempting to put a stop to it but were not receiving enough support and resources.

“We can see how busy are the quarries and there are legitimate quarries doing legitimate business under a legitimate planning application,” he said.

“I have no difficulty with the businesses meeting those conditions. There are illegal quarries in Kilkenny and Laois in particular that do not have planning permission. They have escaped the law and the county council bringing them back to being a lawful and registered quarry.”

Deputy McGuinness said he had raised the question in the House with the Taoiseach and was now raising it directly with the Environment Minister Eamon Ryan. He urged him to look at quarries that are breaking the law and causing ‘untold destruction’.

“They are operating without any licence or proper planning permission,” he said. “Will the Minister investigate these cases in Laois and Kilkenny and find out what is happening with those quarries that are breaking the law? What is happening with the citizens making the complaints about the law being broken?

“What can we do about the banks and vulture funds that currently own some of those quarries and which are turning a blind eye to the asset being stripped, taking no action to support the local communities?”

The Kilkenny TD said if he raised the issue by way of PQ, he is told it is a matter for the county council.

“That may be the case but it is a matter for this House when the law breaks down and the council is not being given the full support and resources of the State to battle some of these individuals breaking the law,” he said.

“I am not painting everybody with the one brush but there is a small number of people causing devastation in local communities to the environment we are trying to protect with this Bill. It is scandalous.”

Deputy McGuinness said he had followed up queries around quarries and was shocked over how long it takes to stop someone breaking the law.

“When the community we are trying to represent sees there is little impact from the complaints they make, people lose faith in politicians and the system. Authority may then break down and people might think if certain others can take a short cut because they have money, they can take a short cut too. People living in rural Ireland do not want to do this,” he said.

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