The decision by Kildare County Council today to reject the Minister plans for the area is very welcome. It was vital the council moved to protect St. Catherine’s Park which has been threatened with a regional road running through it, destroying the fabric of this wonderful amenity for the local community. I have been engaging with the campaigners and have been raising this with the Minister on their behalf. Today’s decision will be very welcome for the residents in Leixlip.
Should the Minister overrule the decision by the council it will be an extremely dangerous act and set an anti-democratic precedent. I hope the Minister respects the decision of our council and the residents in Leixlip who have made it clear they do not want any roads or developments through their park.
The principle of subsidiarity has long held that decisions should be made by those closest to them, in this case, the elected public representatives and not the Minister or his Department. The councillors live in the area, understand the needs of the local people, and are accountable to the local electorate. The Minister and his officials are not. What makes sense on a technical document can often be seen differently by those who know the characteristincs of the particular area. The councillors should be trusted to make these decisions for their constituents.
The councillors have also called for a master plan for the Confey area before any development can happen, this is sensible and avoids overloading housing without amenities of infrastructure in place. The decision regarding Leixlip Castle Demesne should also be respected.
The Minister has developed a habit of interfering in local decisions in Kildare. Between Leixlip, Celbridge, and Sallins there has been Ministerial directions issued on all three plans, this is not good for democracy.
I was very happy to attend today’s council meeting to show my support for the local residents and Councillors. I will continue to raise this with the Minster in the Dáil to highlight the concerns of the residents who want St. Catherine’s Park to stay as it is and to protect the character of Leixlip for future generations. Additional housing is needed and welcome but it must be done in a balanced way and in conjunction with the local knowledge of local Councillors.