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From a meeting of Irish Parliament that took place in February. Michael Healy-Rae is a representative for Kerry South. Michael Ring is the minister of state for regional economic development.

michael healy-rae: Minister, Killarney National Park is being neglected. The rhododendrons are taking over completely. The deer population has exploded. Trails need to be upgraded. We all know that Killarney is not the tourism capital of Kerry or of Ireland or of Europe but the tourism capital of the world. I want to put it on the record of the House: there is no place better in this world than Killarney or its national park. I want you to become a martyr for our national park in ensuring that the adequate resources will be deployed there.

When trees fall in the national park, they are left to rot. What I’ve been told is, “Oh, it’s good for biodiversity to have rotting, and have the snails and the creepy-crawlies going through.” That’s rubbish! We need to keep the place nice and clean like the people long ago did before us. The rhododendron situation in Killarney National Park has gotten so bad, nothing short of calling in the Army is going to put it right.

michael ring: I agree with a lot of things you’ve said, sometimes. But I totally disagree with you about Killarney. Because as far as I’m concerned, the number one place in Ireland, in Europe, and in the world is a place called Westport, in County Mayo, and anytime you want to come down on the holidays, you are welcome to come down.

With regard to the issue of rhododendrons, my department has invested heavily in tackling this invasive species, the control of which is difficult, costly, and labor intensive. In 2016, the department spent 209,611 euros on clearance.

healy-rae: You rightly state the money that has been spent, but we are losing the war. We need more men and women on the ground. I am not a blackguard. I wouldn’t say that your national park is being neglected unless it genuinely was.

ring: The rhododendron problem, we’re trying to tackle that. I’m calling on the people to help with this serious problem in Killarney Park.

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June 2017

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