Castleisland General Election Forum – Challenges to the Candidates

Castleisland Chamber Alliance Chairman, Michael John Kearney setting out the chamber’s aspirations for tonight’s forum and for the future of the area.

The focus of tonight’s Kerry constituency candidates’ forum will be on issues of particular concern to the Castleisland area, but also on national issues that have applicability to this region – according to Castleisland Chamber Alliance Chairman, Michael John Kearney.

Here, Mr. Kearney outlines the chamber’s hopes for the theme and outcome of the forum.

The event will be held at the River Island Hotel tonight, Thursday February 6th from 7.30pm.

The moderator will be Radio Kerry’s Treasa Murphy.

An Opportunity for the Candidates

“This is an important opportunity for the candidates, in a public forum, to communicate their commitment to our region, on pressing issues, and articulate what they will do to resolve these issues, should they be elected, be in government or in a position to influence government policy.

It is my personal opinion, that while the people of Castleisland Municipal District and the communities within, may be well served by their minister, TD’s, and councillors, the municipal district and Castleisland town in particular is a forgotten land in government, IDA, tourism and local council thinking when it comes to investment in key areas such as industrial manufacturing, location of service hubs and tourism.

Included Here / Excluded There

In the submission to the 2040 Development Framework, by Kerry County Council, while Castleisland is included in the area zoned for Manufacturing – the Kerry Hub, we are excluded from the Knowledge Economy Cluster, and the Agri Tech and Agriculture Cluster.

We do get designation as an Innovation Hub.

Build on Entrepreneurship

In general business it is crucial to build on the entrepreneurship of the area, by designating the region as a potential destination for foreign direct investment.

This can be achieved through promoting our strategically located infrastructure at the ‘Gateway to Kerry’ the potential of the underdeveloped lands and facilities in the environs of Castleisland.

The recent development of Island Point and the Carnegie Building, which are capable of facilitating up to 100 workers, need a focussed marketing campaign, in collaboration with state agencies and existing businesses in the area.

Sliabh Luachra Music

In tourism, the heritage of Sliabh Luachra music brings the very best of musicians and singers, plus thousands of enthusiasts, who come here for the unique immersive traditional music experience along with the ambience of the real rural, rustic, authentic, Castleisland region and Sliabh Luachra countryside.

Tourism and Heritage Offerings

This already adds enormously to the economy of the area, but it needs to be up-marketed and sold as a tourist entity, complementing, the tourism and heritage offerings already existing in the Castleisland area.

Castleisland Chamber Alliance aims to get the town and district into focus as a realistic location, in the eyes of government, the IDA, and Tourism Ireland, in which to locate businesses and tourism attractions while continuing to strengthen its retailing, and service offerings.

Support of Elected Reps

We must believe much more can be done with the support of our elected representatives to attract business and tourism to the town and district.

While there have been some notable advances in the past year, bringing up to 150 jobs, in terms of developments in the area, mostly focused on health, and existing commercial service initiatives, we still lack the backing of state promotion and investment to add to the areas ‘economic’ strength to complement the undoubted entrepreneurial capability of the area in a sustainable way.

Not on a Sustainable Path

That’s the real concern – the town and district is not on a sustainable path, and especially when you consider the beef crisis, and its impact on the region.

Shouting loudly about the good we do is not a winning strategy. We need to demonstrate that together, that we are all part of the solution. We look forward to working with you.

Over to you Treasa and the panel.”