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Further Correspondence In Relation To Thurles Famine ‘Double Ditch’

In the interests of openness and transparency we would like to publish three communication received, two by email, together with my two replies; and one in a comment sent in relation to the ‘Great Famine Double Ditch’ enquiry.

Let me first deal with the comment received from Fianna Fáil TD Mr Jackie Cahill.

Mr Cahill’s comment to this website today posted exactly as shown here, (Including the spelling mistakes): –

Author: Jc
Email: Jackie.cahill@oir.ie
Comment:
Iv done more in 5 years than you have in youre life GEORGIE WILLOBY. Stop emailing.

Mr Cahill you are correct, unlike you, I have never taken €1,800 per week in salary, plus expenses, from the public purse while masquerading as an elected politician.

I have honoured Mr Cahill TD’s wishes, in the full knowledge that same Mr Cahill never answers any correspondence sent to his email account. However, perhaps Mr Cahill could name just one project that he has been successful in bringing to fruition in the last 5 years, while earning his €1,800 per week.

P.S. JCGet that €2.5 million tourism achievement piece of text changed on your Facebook to at least the correct figure of €25,000, despite the fact that you were not involved in the slightest in same acquisition.

The first of two email communications came from Mr David Coleman (Ethics Registrar, Tipperary County Council.)

Same reads: –

Dear Mr. Willoughby,

Your email of 27th September below refers.

Your query concerning the response you received in relation to the “Thurles Double Ditch” has been referred to the Thurles District Administrator for follow up with the relevant Directorate as is your request for a copy of the 3 documents referenced.

I wish to confirm that I am the Ethics Registrar for Tipperary County Council with effect from 1st June 2020 and as previously advised, legislation requires that this position is not held by the same person for a period longer than 2 years, hence the reason that you would have been initially informed that Mr Ger Walsh was previously the Ethics Registrar. Unfortunately, our website had not been updated at the time but I can advise that this has now been rectified.

As I have previously stated, each of the seven elected members of the Thurles Municipal District were reminded of their requirement to have regard to and be guided by the Code of Conduct.


Regarding the Council officials you asked questions of, the reply which you received from the Acting District Manager included relevant input from these officials and going forward, similar queries concerning the Thurles Municipal District area should be sent in the first instance to the Thurles District Administrator for coordination and direct reply to yourself.

Yours Sincerely
David Coleman (Ethics Registrar)

My email reply to Mr Coleman read: –

For the attention of Mr David Coleman.

Sir,
Thank you for your communication of the 8th instant.


Following your instruction to Ms Janice Gardiner, the material requested 3 weeks ago, (September 17th), was forwarded to me yesterday, October 9th.

From reading the content received it is obvious why the material was slow to materialise.

As you are aware, as yet no satisfactory reply to my question has come from Ms Gardiner.

Note the question was: – “Will the planned Thurles inner relief road impinge, in a negative way, on the 1846 Thurles “Double Ditch”, which has been a right of way and a Mass Path for almost 175 years and which is the property of the people of Thurles and a National Monument?”

However, following my own intensive investigations I am now fully aware of the answer to that latter question. A reply from Ms Gardiner and all other elected local councillors and Co. Council officials are no longer required.

However, I thank you for your swift intervention in this matter as Ethics Registrar for Tipperary County Council.

Yours sincerely,
George Willoughby

The second email communication arrived on Friday last, October 9th, 2020, from Ms Janice Gardiner (Acting District Administrator, Thurles Municipal District, Tipperary County Council, Castle Avenue, Thurles, Co. Tipperary).

This communication read: –

Dear Sir,
Please see attached documents as requested.

Regards,
Janice Gardiner

For Your Information: – Documents requested were: –

  • An Bord Pleanala Report PL79.JP0024
  • 2013 EIA Screening Report
  • 2013 Archaeological Impact Statement.

My email reply to Ms Gardiner read: –

Attention of Ms Janice Gardiner.

Madam,

I acknowledge and thank you for your communication of the 9th instant and the attachments, first requested on September 17th 2020 last.


Yours sincerely.
George Willoughby

In the next day or two, the results of my investigations will be published here in full detail.

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Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill – Grasps At Imaginary Straws

You would swear it was a General Election year, then maybe it might be, and if it is, we need to change every solitary TD, we elect to represent our county of Tipperary.

Perhaps the biggest laugh local people got on Friday last, came from Fianna Fáil TD Mr Jackie Cahill. [See his Facebook page shared with Thurles public October 2nd, 2020].

He writes: “I want to give you an update on the work I’ve been doing, and will continue to do, for my home town of Thurles!

Social Housing: 28 units are currently being constructed on the Mill Road. This government is dedicated to providing social and affordable housing.
[Note: No mention of attempting to save the 175 year old “Great Famine Double Ditch”, which exists 5 metres (15ft) from where he was standing in his video. We sent 2 emails to Mr Cahill’s email address asking for the answers to 3 simple questions and as was expected from Mr Cahill, we got no reply.]

Jigsaw Centre: this will provide much needed mental health supports for young people in Tipperary.

Third Level Funding: this government has provided €2 million in capital grants for MIC and LIT Thurles campuses as part of the July stimulus.

MIC Thurles: I am working to increase the number of courses available for students, increasing the educational opportunities available in Thurles.

Tourism Office: €2.5 million for a tourism office on the site of the old Lár na Páirce. [You mean, Mr Cahill, the old National Bank building, not Lár na Páirce Museum, surely. By the way it was a €25,000 grant under the Village Renewal Scheme, not €2.5 million; hence the GO FUND ME page started, to try to keep it up and running.]

Hospital of the Assumption: €2.5 million investment in day and respite services for the area. [I thought Mr Alan Kelly TD, in opposition, was responsible for that enterprise before being contradicted by Mr Michael Lowry TD.]

National Apprenticeship Centre: working to increase spaces on offer and I secured €200,000 for Tipperary ETB.

Meanwhile, no mention of his formerly announced pipe dream of a Visitor Heritage Centre for Holycross Abbey, announced by Mr Cahill a week earlier, on 27th September, 2020.

Mr Cahill TD states: [View HERE and do please read the comments underneath for further amusement.]

His press release reads: –
“Cahill announces plans for a Multi-million Euro Heritage Centre in the Thurles area.”
This development in the Thurles area is believed to have the potential to attract large numbers of international visitors to the area annually.
Investments like this are needed in Tipperary to take advantage of opportunities that are likely to emerge as the global pandemic is brought under control.

The fact that this project has been able to progress during the Covid pandemic proves to us all that there will be life after Covid, and our area will have a major investment to look forward to.
I have been working with stakeholders for some time now on this planned development. Consultations with the local community in the area in question are commencing. Once this process is over, I will be in a position to announce more details.
This multi-million Euro development will most definitely be a welcome boost to the mid Tipp region.

[Read the full announcement HERE as Local TippFm Radio broadcasts political deceit. No mention of attempting to save existing 175 year old Thurles heritage.]

The Holycross/ Ballycahill local News Letter on the 27th September 2020, quickly brought TD Mr Jackie Cahill and Thurles Councillor Mr Jim Ryan, back from ‘Fantasy Land’, into the local world of reality and materiality.

The Holycross/ Ballycahill local News Letter stated: – (27th September 2020)
Visitor Heritage Centre: Further to recent media speculation in relation to Holycross Abbey, we wish to point out that there are no plans, drawings, costings or concrete proposals in relation to any development here at this point in time.

As has been the case for centuries, our Abbey remains the focal point of our parish for devotion and prayer and that will continue long into the future. If or when there are any further future developments at the Abbey, the people of the parish of Holycross/ Ballycahill should and hopefully will be the first to hear about it.

As you are probably aware from media reports, the Minister with responsibility for OPW
(Office of Public Works), Deputy Patrick Donovan made a visit to the Abbey during the week. His predecessor Kevin “Boxer” Moran also made a visit some years ago.

Discussions on possible future development of the OPW portion of the grounds have been taking place over a number of years to see how we can further enhance the area to the benefit of the Abbey and the OPW. Therefore, there is nothing new to report at this point.

There are no plans or funding proposals on the table for discussion. Hopefully this will happen at a later stage which, according to the Minister, could take many years to bring to fruition.
We are advised that any media speculation is not helpful at this time and may in fact hinder any prospects for the future development.

So Mr Cahill, were you attempting to magnify your currently non-existant profile, to your limited electorate by the use of deceit?

Mr Cahill laughingly continues on his Facebook page:-

“I will continue to push for capital investments in the Thurles area, such as the car park in the town and the development of Liberty Square.” [Note: Carpark & Liberty Square developments were both paid for by the ratepayers of Thurles. Fianna Fáil local councillors voted against that same increase of rates collected to develop Liberty Square, when it was first proposed many years ago.]

Truth is Mr Cahill, you had no hand, act or part in securing or acquiring any one of the assets you claim in your statement, but which you expect the hard working people of Thurles to swallow as truth.

Perhaps the time has come for all TD’s representing Co. Tipperary to either work for their €96,189 per year (€1,850 per week) or fold their tents.
Sorry folks, but paying PR staff to associate you with the Met Éireann Weather Forecast on Facebook; with the successful and winning greats like cyclist Sam Bennett, is not actually the work we elected you all to undertake.

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Aerial View Of Thurles Great Famine Double Ditch Project

Dublin City Council is investigating the circumstances surrounding the demolition of the former home of a 1916 leader. View RTÉ report HERE
Meanwhile, here in Thurles Co. Tipperary, the scene is one of similar deception by Tipperary Co. Council.

Our readers will be aware of the reply we received from Tipperary County Council officials Ms Janice Gardiner or Mr. Eamon Lonergan, (we are unsure of the actual author – View HERE ) that, quote “Tipperary County Council has reviewed all documentation relating to the planning aspects of the Thurles Inner Relief Road Project and can find no reference to the existence of the feature/path/monument you describe.”

In relation to the word’s “feature” and “path”, we here at Thurles.Info decided to check.
Despite massive expense incurred, we flew a Drone over the area.

Low and behold, as agreed by Google Maps, we discovered the Double Ditch has not moved, and 175 years later, it still exists in exactly the same spot; operating as a Thurles right-of-way and a Mass path, despite the reports by An Bord Pleanala Report (PL79.JP0024); the 2013 EIA Screening Report and the 2013 Archaeological Impact Statement, and so on and so on.

Very soon we will prove without doubt that deceitful or misinformed Tipperary County Council officials and prevaricating elected representatives are attempting, through subterfuge, to destroy valuable Thurles Heritage.

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Thurles Double Ditch – Tipperary County Council Continue In Their Silence

We welcome the anticipated new Thurles Tourism Office to the building once known as the old National Bank building and gifted to Thurles by Shannon Development under the governance of Thurles Development Association, Shannon Development and Tipperary County Board G.A.A..

Thurles has, it now appears, two Tourist Offices, one new office on Slievenamon road and one other, some 100 metres away in Bookworm on Liberty Square.

Same is being opened at a time when Liberty Square is desolate, being redeveloped/upgraded; at a time when even the Swifts and Swallows have returned back to Africa; in the middle of a COVID-19 virus pandemic; and of course at a time when Tipperary County Council has decided to destroy much of Thurles Town’s valuable heritage, namely the Great Famine Double Ditch monument.
Nevertheless we wish those involved, in the Thurles Tourism Office, every good wish for the future.

Thurles To Open A Second Tourist Office.

For those of our readers following our efforts to preserve and retain our heritage, please read HERE to refresh your memories before reading content hereunder.

My reply to Mr David Coleman, (Ethics Registrar, Corporate Services, Tipperary Co. Council.)

Sir,
I thank you for your communication of the 23rd instant.

Let me deal with the first part of your communication. You stated: “The appropriate response in the case of your queries should come from the Thurles Municipal District Executive, i.e. the District Manager or the District Administrator. I understand that you have received a reply to your queries from the Acting District Manager.

Allow me to remind you of the original question asked two months ago: “Will the planned Thurles inner relief road impinge, in a negative way, on the 1846 Thurles “Double Ditch”, which has been a right of way and a Mass Path for almost 175 years and which is the property of the people of Thurles and a national monument?

The reply which came from Ms Janice Gardiner (Acting District Manager) stated:- “Tipperary County Council has reviewed all documentation relating to the planning aspects of the Thurles Inner Relief Road Project and can find no reference to the existence of the feature/path/monument you describe.”

Do you now, Mr Coleman, believe that the above reply from Ms Gardiner (Acting District Manager), answers the original question asked 6 weeks previously?

See link  http://www.thurles.info/2020/09/17/even-more-news-on-efforts-to-destroy-thurles-heritage-by-tipperary-co-co/
Were Ms Gardiner to arise from her desk and travel a mere 1610 metres from her office, she can physically view the same “feature/path/monument” that I described, which looms exceedingly large on the local Mill Road, landscape.

As you can see from the link HERE, I have requested (on September 17th 2020) from Ms Gardiner, (and referring to the An Bord Pleanala Report PL79.JP00242013; Archaeological Impact Statement; and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Screening Report 2013), quote, “I now request copies of all 3 reports to be sent directly to me, in the knowledge that there is a charge for such copies, which I will pay for, immediately on receipt.”

Mr Coleman, I first made contact with you via Mr Ger Walsh in my effort to obtain answers to questions which seven of nine elected Councillors refused to answer over a then seven week period. The nature of the questions, numbering 1 & 2, were urgent, as developers were already in place, beginning their contractual commitments.

Note: The Standards in Public Office Commission which promotes transparency and accountability in Irish public life, (SIPO) correctly informed me via their Complaints Shared Mailbox on 28th August 2020, at 11:49 : –
“Dear Mr Willoughby,
Our most up to date records state that the Ethics Registrar for Tipperary County Council is Mr Ger Walsh. This position is one which is required by statute to change frequently however, so it may be prudent to check with the Council who holds the position currently. The Oireachtas should be able to advise you on when a new Committee will be established, the Standards in Public Office Commission has no role in considering Ethics complaints concerning TDs.” 

So that there now remains no misunderstanding, having checked with a telephonist at Tipperary Co. Council, (Tel: 0761 065000), I was Informed that Mr Ger Walsh remained the Ethics Registrar.

The functions of any local authority are to provide a forum for the democratic representation of the local community and to provide civic leadership for that community. It is also charged under the Local Government Act, 2001 (section 64)to promote interest among young people in democracy and local government and in community and civic affairs generally”

Do you believe therefore that it is in keeping that one elected Council member, namely Mr Michaél Lowry should ask me, 7 weeks after addressing my questions to him twice, quote Who the f..k do you think you are?”

Since we now learn that Ms Janice Gardener is the only person that can be approached with queries, why do we need County Councillors on huge salaries at all, latter who hold already alternative 9 to 5 full-time employment, thus wasting taxpayer’s money?

I get the impression from your reply that perhaps you and some of your Council colleagues, see me as some kind of asinine, doltish and meaningless, time waster and while I thank you for having contacted 7 of our 9 councillors in terms of their having no regard to and not being guided by the Council’s Code of Conduct, the question remains, have you also contacted senior officials employed on Tipperary County Council’s workforce, from whom replies were also sought and remain unanswered?.

I trust you have familiarized yourself fully with the Local Government Act of 2001 [ Section 174 (i) ] regarding your dealings with Elected Councillors and Council officials. To date 5 councillors and 3 Tipperary Co. Council. officials have failed to reply to me in writing.

Suffice to state that to date, shamefully, two months after the questions were initially asked, I still, today, together with my readers, await even one satisfactory, honest or candid answer, in my dealings regarding this unpalatable matter.

There now appear to be no single person within Tipperary Co. Council, led by Mr Joe MacGrath CE that can conduct, with any real authority, the moral principles that should govern the behaviour or activity of Council officials or Locally Elected Representatives.

But Ladies and Gentlemen, answer you will!

Yours sincerely.
George Willoughby

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Update On Destruction Of Thurles Heritage By Tipperary. Co. Council.

Readers will be aware that we received a prompt email from Mr Ger Walsh, Tipperary Co. Council, latter former Ethics Registrar, on the 9th of September last, informing us that “the position of Ethics Registrar has been re-assigned to Mr. David Coleman, Administrative Officer, Corporate Services for the period 1st June 2020 until 31st May 2022” .

Two days ago September 23rd we received a reply from Mr. David Coleman.

Damage already caused to the 1846 Great Famine Double Ditch by Tipperary County Council, with the acceptance of local TD’s and Thurles Municipal District Council.

His email communication reads as follows:-

Sent by Coleman, David david.coleman@tipperarycoco.ie. Time 14:57 to me and dated 23/9/2020.

“Dear Mr. Willoughby,
I am replying to your complaint regarding three queries you raised with the 9 elected members of Thurles Municipal District Council, of which 2 replied to you.
(Personal note: The two who replied were Cllr. Mr Sean Ryan and Cllr. Mr Seamus Hanifin.)

The appropriate response in the case of your queries should come from the Thurles Municipal District Executive, ie the District Manager or the District Administrator.

I understand that you have received a reply to your queries from the Acting District Manager.

Going forward, similar queries should be sent to the District Administrator.

The seven elected members have been contacted in terms of their having regard to and be guided by the Code of Conduct.

I must point out, however, that it is a matter for each elected representative to determine how they deal with their electronic communications, while being cognizant of the Code of Conduct.

Yours Sincerely
David Coleman, (Ethics Registrar, Corporate Services.)”

We will be replying to Mr. David Coleman’s communication in the coming days; the reply to be made public.

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