Rural communities are mobilising to stop gaming companies setting up casinos in their localities.
Cork county councillors believe that gaming companies are trying to locate in smaller towns ahead of new Government legislation which will make it more difficult for them to do so when it is introduced next year.
Members of the Charleville/Fermoy Municipal District Council in Co Cork have asked council officials to check with their legal advisers to ensure they have the power to prevent casinos opening up in their area of governance. They were told that a reserve function of the municipal function allows this, but they asked for clarity from the council’s legal department before moving to enact it.
The move comes after recent applications for gaming facilities in Fermoy and Mitchelstown faced huge opposition from the public.
The council was presented with a petition signed by more than 1,200 people against a plan to create a casino in Mitchelstown. Hundreds of people attended a meeting in Fermoy against a casino proposed there.
Independent councillor June Murphy and Fine Gael councillor Noel McCarthy brought forward motions at the meeting to ban new gaming arcades in the entire municipal district, which also covers towns such as Charleville and Doneraile. Ms Murphy said they should also seek backing at full county council level because she knows of councillors in other municipal districts who are equally concerned about such developments.
Mr McCarthy pointed out that the former Fermoy Town Council had banned casinos, but the town has grown so much that most of it now is not included in the designated ban area: “The people of Fermoy were totally against it on both sides of the town. We need to extend the ban not only to cover the whole town but to cover the whole municipal district.”
Fine Gael councillor Kay Dawson said the weight of public opinion would be firmly behind the council as she has personally received a lot of representations from people who are against a casino operating in Mitchelstown.
Municipal district council chairman Frank O’Flynn said he favours a municipal-wide ban because if it is imposed only in towns casino operators might decide to move into nearby villages.
“People don’t want to see these things coming into towns. They’re not going to create more jobs, or do the economy any good,” added Ms Murphy.
Mr McCarthy said his municipal district council should lead from the front and it would encourage other districts to follow suit.
Mr O’Flynn said that once legal advice has been received which shows that the municipal council has the power to ban casinos he will call a special meeting to enact it.
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