Officials from my Department have met with Kildare County Council to discuss collaborating on the future management and presentation of the Curragh Plains.
As the Minister with responsibility for Defence, I am the custodian and guardian of the Curragh lands pursuant to the provisions of the Curragh of Kildare Act, 1961. I believe it is important to bear this in mind, as under that Act, the Curragh Plains is recognised as a working environment for the state's Defence Forces as well as being a place of historical and cultural importance.
Both the Department of Defence and Kildare County Council are cognisant of the need to have in place a means of ensuring the conservation of this ancient landscape. My Department is considering the procurement with the Local Authority of a multi-disciplinary consultancy team to explore ways and find opportunities through which the area can be uniquely identified, and also scope out the development potential of the area as a high value visitor attraction.
The Curragh Plains comprise the central training facility for the state's military forces; the centre of the Irish horse racing industry; and additionally are used by sheep owners who avail of long established rights of pasture on the lands. Any future plans must take account of the necessary military requirements of the Defence Forces use of Curragh lands and of these other stakeholders.
The Deputy is already aware new Land Staff were recruited earlier this year to enhance the Curragh team.