The owner of the county Kilkenny site at the centre of protests says it’s ‘disappointing’ that some people have chosen to not believe his plans for the property as he’s outlined them.
Rumours had been swirling about the future of the former Josephine’s Restaurant on Urlingford’s Main Street but local businessman Bernard Kavanagh issued a statement online confirming that the aim is to provide accommodation for some staff members and their families fleeing the war in Ukraine.
The Equality Department confirmed same to KCLR, noting that the building needs to undergo an assessment to determine it’s suitability.
While a fire cert issued for the building would allow up to 48 people on site.
However, there has been speculation that up to 200 men from various countries would instead be housed there – protestors have maintained a presence outside the premises for the past week with about 100 gathering on Saturday and marching through the town.
Site owner Bernard Kavanagh this morning joined Brian Redmond on The KCLR Daily to fully reconfirm his vision for the building – hear that in full here;
Meanwhile, earlier on the same programme Minister of State and local Green TD Malcolm Noonan and Fianna Fáil Deputy John McGuinness reacted to what’s been going on in Urlingford and commented too on plans for the former St Brigid’s nursing home and maternity hospital in Carlow town;
Statement from the Chair of the Castlecomer Municipal District, Fianna Fáil Cllr Michael Delaney, who attended Saturday’s protest and addressed those gathered;
“I attended the protest in Urlingford on Saturday because numerous local residents who are concerned about the proposals for the old Josephine’s Restaurant asked me to join them.
I stood with the community, and I voiced my opinion when invited to speak at the protest. I support the local community 100% and I told those in attendance that I will make myself available for anyone that needed my assistance.
While I support the protests and the local community, I don’t want to see the community divided by misinformation and untruths about what is happening in that building. The longer it is left without proper, meaningful consultation with factual information given to local residents, the more likely rumours will spread, and a hateful agenda will take over. I do not want to see that happen. I do not want to see local businesses or local people dragged into what should be a peaceful protest.
I attended the protest to hear their concerns, I informed the protestors that I would then meet the Kavanagh family, which I did, in a bid to find common ground, dispel the misinformation and provide people with the facts that they are looking for. I would like to see that information provided. Local residents want to see a floor plan and a copy of the contract so they can be reassured that the building is specifically for a limited number of Ukrainian families only. If that information was provided, to back up the statement recently issued by Kavanaghs, it would help to relieve some of the concerns of the local community. If I can facilitate that exchange of factual information as a local public representative, I’m willing to do so and will do whatever I can to help bring about a positive conclusion to this issue on behalf of the residents of Urlingford.
The Government has a huge amount to answer for. Minister Roderic O’Gorman has a lot to answer for as his Department is responsible for this. He needs to step up to the plate and get rid of this cloak and dagger situation where deals are done in secrecy, communities are left in the dark, rumour and fear take over and protests begin to mount. If the right approach was taken, if responsibility was taken and if the Minister came out of hiding, this situation would not have escalated the way it did.
Its unfair on the local businesses and local communities that we need to support. So many local businesses have provided a huge amount for Urlingford in terms of employment and the local economy, so I hate to see an issue like this become so divisive. We need it resolved as a matter of urgency and I’m calling on all parties to step up and work with the local community and local businesses to bring this to a close so we can move on and continue to make Urlingford a great place to live, work and to do business.”