Councillor has to be told three times on land question

An Athlone councillor drew the ire of the county manager for asking the same question three times at the annual budget meeting at the County Buildings in Mullingar on Monday.

Describing himself as being “like a dog with a bone” over the issue, an unapologetic Cllr Frankie Keena manouevred himself some floor space to ask county manager, Danny McLoughlin “that the county council undertake research into getting greater value from the council’s existing land bank” by perhaps planting a fast growing biomass crop like willow.

“I don’t suspect it’s a money maker,” said a mildly exasperated Mr McLoughlin.

“If it was, why aren’t the farming community planting like this left right and centre?” he asked.

On the first two askings, Mr McLoughlin had pointed out to Cllr Keena that the council had a well documented policy of dispersal and potential usage for the main body of territory within its existing land bank - the cow parks, and that the next sizeable parcel was zoned for housing development.

He went on to point out the third largest in size of available land bank is earmarked for road projects “which the NRA [National Roads Authority] would take a view is theirs”.

Despite the brusqueness of reply to his non-runner idea, Cllr Keena was the only councillor at the meeting to offer any idea that might raise money for the county rather than spend more.


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