Councillors get prickly over the state of Kerry’s hedges

A heated row erupted at yesterday’s meeting of Kerry County Council while a motion on hedge-cutting was being discussed.

A proposal by Cllr Johnny Healy-Rae (Ind), who claimed untrimmed hedges were causing serious traffic hazards, urged the council to initiate a hedge-cutting scheme similar to that of Clare County Council.

Cllr Brendan Cronin (Ind) pointed out the Healy-Rae family, who act as contractors for the council, were in the plant hire business and he asked if they had tendered for hedge-cutting work.

There was an immediate reaction from Cllr Johnny Healy-Rae and his father, Danny Healy-Rae, who demanded right of reply.

Johnny Healy-Rae said it was “ridiculous beyond belief” for a councillor to suggest that just because the Healy-Raes had a plant hire business they were not entitled to put down a motion to help communities.

“If Cllr Cronin viewed the tender process in the county council, he might know what he’s talking about,” he said.

Council management, meanwhile, has reiterated that it is a landowner’s responsibility to ensure roadside hedges are cut, under legislation dating to 1993.

There were claims from councillors that people cycling around the Ring of Kerry were taking their lives in their hands because of uncut hedges and that oil lorries were refusing to deliver to elderly people living up narrow roads because the roads were “closing in”.

Others said that motorists’ views were being obstructed and some junctions had become dangerous because of hedges that had not been cut for a long time.

Cllr Cronin disagreed with the motion, saying many farmers had abided by the legislation and had cut back hedges at their own expense.

“What is being proposed here is widespread cutting [by the council] all over the county, putting an added burden on taxpayers,’’ he said.

Cllr John Brassil (FF) said the state of roadsides in Kerry had deteriorated since the legislation was enacted and the council started enforcing it.

“Roadsides are overgrown with blackthorn and Japanese knotweed and it’s getting quite serious. As a tourist county, this is an issue that has to be resolved,’’ he said.

The motion was referred to the council’s special transport committee, which was asked to come up with proposals early in the new year.


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