Peadar Monaghan to run for the Council – Christmas 1998

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Athenry Journal interviews Peadar on his intention to be our next Local County Councillor.

Athenry Journal: “When did you decide to get involved in local politics”?

Peadar Monaghan: “I was always interested in politics.

I have been a member of Fianna Fail since I returned from England in 1968.  I have been involved in community work and I see a need for a local Councillor. 1 have now got the opportunity at this time as the two local Fianna Fail organisations nominated me to run in the local elections next year.  Athenry was well represented by Martin Lynch R.I.P. and Tony Murphy R.I.P. but since then there has been no local representative and 1 feel Athenry has suffered because of this.  The recent Town Development Plan hoisted on Athenry without due consultation is an example of this neglect.  Our Gardai live in Athenry but work in Galway for a great deal of their time’ A local representative would have foreseen this happening and would have highlighted the lack of their presence in Athenry – an expanding Athenry needs its full compliment of Gardai on duty full-time in the area.  There are still no public toilets and no children’s playground”.

AJ: “What is the electoral area you would represent”?

PM: I will be running in the Loughrea Electoral Area.  This area extends to the very south of the county to Portumna, including Kinvara, Gort, and Loughrea.  Athenry is at the northern end of the Electoral Area.  The area includes the town of Athenry and most of the Parish.  Our nearest representative is outside the Athenry area so I believe Athenry needs and deserves its own local Councillor. If the people of Athenry and the surrounding area support their local candidate who ever he or she is, there would always be a representative for our town and area.

AJ: What would be your priorities when elected?

PM:  If elected I would demand the County Council’s immediate reconsideration of their proposed Development Plan for the town.  I have already made a submission to that effect to the council. The whole infrastructure of Athenry needs to be upgraded before any more major developments take place.  Roads need to be upgraded; the sewage system is operating at full capacity.  Likewise, we all know the water system has been inadequate for years and was often turned off at night.  These areas would get my immediate priority”.

AJ: “Other than the infrastructure what are your feelings on the council’s proposals for the town”?

PM: “The Heritage aspect of the town, I believe, has not got due consideration from the council.  Athenry has rich potential for development related to its history.  The proposals in the Development Plan to allow buildings close to our historical sites like our Town Wall is in my opinion ridiculous.  We are the only Heritage town in the county.  I believe our heritage needs to be protected at all costs.  This would be a major priority for me in any development of the town of Athenry”.

AJ: “ How do you think Athenry should develop”?

PM: Athenry should develop in an orderly fashion and in a balanced way. Most of the proposed development of Athenry is on the north of the town, in the Park road, Tuam road and Monivea road areas of the town.  This is creating a major traffic hazard on these roads particularly on and near the bridging points entering the town.  There is talk of a feasibility study being done for footbridges on these bridges. I believe that these footbridges should have been built before these developments began”.

AJ: Could Athenry become overpopulated?

PM: Certainly. I am not against development but overpopulation will be detrimental to the Heritage of the town. Athenry should stay as an old town, we should keep the integrity of the Medieval Town and we should allow judicious development on the periphery of the town, which should be fed   by a new ring road system”.

AJ “What will you do for Athenry if elected”?

PM” Athenry being my town, I think of Athenry and its people. 1 believe Athenry has a quality of life over and beyond many towns but unfortunately it is being caught up in the rapid development of Galway.  I feel Galway through the County Council’s attitude to planning is hoisting its problems on Athenry. I will work actively and tirelessly with the County Council, 1 will lobby public representatives to see that Athenry does not develop to the detriment of our heritage and our people.  We should learn the lessons of poor planning when we look at the development of places like Clybawn and Knocknacarra, which are now gridlocked.

AJ “As a developer yourself some people might say you are not ideally placed to represent the ordinary people of Athenry.  What would you say to these people”?

PM “People who know me, know I am a builder and refurbished not a developer. I accept there has to be development, but I want to ensure the County Council revitalises the surrounding villages and small towns as well, by allowing small developments take place.  Schemes similar to Fr.  Harry Bohan’s Rural Development Schemes in the 1980s.  Newcastle and Monivea are crying out for small developments to bring life back to their communities and are not getting sympathetic hearings from the council. Why overdevelop Athenry by planning to bring approximately 10,000 people to live here in the near future (at the present rate of development it will be more than 10,000) when more than half these people could be facilitated in the surrounding hinterland”.

AJ “There has been a lot of controversy in Dublin in relation to planning.  Do you think there could be any controversies in Galway in relation to planning”?

PM “I think the fact that Dublin is undergoing a crisis in planning as evidenced by the Flood tribunal; we need much more transparency in the whole planning process including Galway. 1 believe the whole planning system is too secretive.  In my experience one has to make an appointment to get an appointment to see a relevant planning officer to give a simple opinion which should only take minutes if the process was more amenable to the ordinary person in the street. Thankfully there is no evidence of any wrong doing in the Galway planning area but the very fact that individuals and developers can become millionaires overnight calls for the highest degree, of transparency and integrity by the planning authority”.

AJ “Do you believe building contractors and developers are controlling housing development in Galway and its surrounding areas”?

PM “In an open economy like ours, developers by their very nature are profit driven and while most developers operate with the highest integrity, the responsibility for orderly and proper planning remains with the local authority and the Department of the Environment.  The authorities should be vigilant that they are not been used by scrupulous individuals or companies”.

AJ “What powers do County Councillors really have”?

PM “Not enough.  I feel the whole area of Local Government, Health Authorities etc. is controlled by the executive i.e. the employed personnel.  This turns Democracy on its head, as I understand democracy.  One case in point would be the proposed Athenry Development Plan.  This plan appears to been drawn up by one individual (who has since retired) without any real consultation with the local community”.

AJ “If you were elected as a Fianna Fail councillor and issues detrimental to Athenry were being pushed through by the Council, what would you do”?

PM “The democratic system of which the Fianna Fail party belongs and prides itself on, demands a certain discipline of its elected representatives and should a controversial issue arise I would hope that I could negotiate through my party colleagues for the benefit of Athenry.  I am confident I would bring the party with me and so ensure the wishes of the people of Athenry would be fulfilled”.

AJ “What other areas of interest have you in relation to Athenry”?

PM “Farming is in crisis at the moment.  It is sad to think that farmers are getting 20 to 30% less for their beef, sheep and other products than they were getting fifteen years ago when costs were much lower.  We must convince Europe to protect our markets from cheap imports from places like Argentina, Brazil and New Zealand and we badly need to re-open our former markets of Russia, Libya and Iraq.  If any of these markets re-open we should have the ships on hand to transport our livestock and goods.

Athenry in the past 15 years was adequately catered for in the area of education but that is no longer the case.  The present educational facilities are working to full capacity; I would like to see a ten-year plan brought forward immediately to assess the educational needs of the area. The County Council has not provided any recreational facilities in the area as the local clubs have provided their own grounds without any assistance from the Council.  The Community Council bought and developed Raheen, the GAA club, Soccer Club and Tennis Club all have their own grounds.  There is still no provision in future plans to provide recreational amenities in Athenry. 1 would like to put these issues on the Council agenda.

The whole area of social services needs to be further expanded.  There is a good Day-care Centre provided by the Social Services Council and grant aided by the Health Board but because of the modem phenomenon of both parents working outside the home there is a great need for preschool facilities such as Creches, Toddler groups funded by the Health Board.

Many of the larger cities are providing facilities for retired people who could meet on a regular basis as a structured retirement group.  A meeting place where the community could benefit from their skills and where people feel they still have a role to play in the community.

Again, it’s a shame that parents have to travel to Loughrea to get the benefits of a proper playground and what happens to the people who have no transport to avail of these facilities. I would like to see these sections of our society catered for”.

AJ “Could you outline your local involvement to date”?

PM “I have been involved in many organisations including Junior Chamber, Newcastle Community Council, Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s GAA club, District Social Services, Monivea Rugby club and the Athenry Development Company.  I have found involvement in Athenry and Newcastle communities very rewarding”.

AJ ”What age are you?  Tell us about your family”.

PM I am 56. I was born in 1942.  I am married to Maureen Tarpey from Knockcrockery in Co. Roscommon.  We have two boys, David and Andrew.  I live in Tysaxon.  Andrew is married to Valerie and lives in Phoenix U.S.A. David lives in Sheffield.  Maureen is night Superintendent in University College Hospital Galway”.

AJ “Teenage drinking and drug abuse are serious problems?  What could you do to combat these problems”?

PM “Not alone do we have a teenage drink problem we have a national drink problem.  I think excessive consumption of alcohol is glamorised and I believe the National Government should consider a campaign to de-glamorise excessive drinking.  Drink was a social outing up to recent times but as every counsellor will tell you the more we drink the more likely we are to become alcoholics. I feel that any publican or supplier of alcohol who knowingly serves drink to minors should have their licence revoked.  In fairness to publicans and suppliers of alcohol, the onus should be put on the State to provide a proper identification system so that the suppliers of alcoholic drink would be aware that the person is underage.  In America you will not be served alcohol unless you can produce an ID that proves you are legally entitled to purchase alcoholic drinks.

It is a disgrace that children as young as 14 years of age have been under the influence of alcohol in Athenry.  We need a collective will to end this problem not alone in Athenry but all over Ireland.

With regard to drugs the situation is frightening.  I am appalled that drugs are readily available in every small town and village in Ireland.  This could not be happening without many ordinary people knowing something about it and it defies logic that this situation is allowed to exist. The drug pusher is a parasite in our society and every sane person should work tirelessly to rid our community of such ruthless people”.

AJ “How are preparing for the battle of the upcoming election”?

PM “I am building a very good team of people around me. I am doing a lot of groundwork in advance of the election.  With the help of God and the support of the town and parish of Athenry I hope my planning and hard work will pay off next June. I have opened an office in Old Church Street which will be the centre of my campaign”.

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About this record

Written by Athenry Journal

Published here 19 Apr 2023 and originally published Christmas 1998

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