Killarney council rejects sex shop but may be unable to stop it

TOP tourist town Killarney, which likes to call itself Heaven’s Reflex, has given the thumbs-down to sex shops.

But local councillors — the overwhelming majority of whom are strongly opposed to such shops — may be powerless to prevent them from opening.

Killarney mayor Patrick O’Donoghue admitted: “If someone is determined enough to open one of these shops, there’s very little we can do about it.”

The heated issue arose at this week’s town council meeting at which only one councillor, Labour’s Sean O’Grady, dissented from a motion which opposed the imminent opening of what was described as an adult sex shop, at Glebe Place, in the town centre.

The motion was jointly tabled by Mr O’Grady’s brother, Donal, an Independent councillor, and former Killarney mayor Niall O’Callaghan, also an Independent.

A draft development plan for Killarney includes adult shops, taxi offices and takeaway food outlets among banned, non-conforming, retail developments.

Cllr Donal Grady said items for hen and stag parties were already being sold in a local premises and staff were being sought for an adult sex shop.

He felt a sex shop would ruin the town.

Mr O’Callaghan, who has been involved in youth and sporting organisations for many years, said such shops would send out the wrong message about Killarney.

“We have some beautiful alleyways and laneways and I would hate to see sex shops going up there,” he said.

Retired primary teacher and Independent Cllr Michael Gleeson said young people would visit a sex shop out of curiosity and such places would also be visited by some people of ‘dubious character’. He believed such facilities would challenge the quality of life of young people.

“If you compromise that, you are compromising something very special and sacred,” Mr Gleeson warned.

However, Sean O’Grady couldn’t understand what all the heat was about and maintained a sex shop would not affect the moral fibre of the community in any way.

“What we’re talking about here are adults who are well able to make decisions for themselves,” he said.

“It is immature of us to be putting in laws stipulating that people can’t do this. Prohibiting something like this will not add one whit to the moral fibre of young people.

“Nobody is proposing that we close down pubs because they are frequented by young people,” he remarked.

Senior planning official Fiona O’Sullivan told the meeting the council could not stop somebody from opening an adult shop in an existing retail unit, adding the only control the council had was over signage.

However, it is council policy to exclude sex shops from new retail units and this will be stated in the town development plan.

Meanwhile, gardaí have confirmed that a number of brothels were recently closed down in Killarney. It was suggested that “foreign prostitutes were moving from town to town and apartment to apartment”.

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