Lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives meet with Min­is­ter over the sale of Lug­gala es­tate

Wicklow People - - FRONT PAGE - By MYLES BUCHANAN

DIS­CUS­SIONS re­main on­go­ing be­tween the own­ers of Lug­gala Es­tate and Min­is­ter for Cul­ture Her­itage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madi­gan over the pos­si­bil­ity of the State pur­chas­ing the pres­ti­gious es­tate.

Lug­gala con­sists of some 5,000 acres and has been of­fered with a price tag of €28 mil­lion. Min­is­ter of State An­drew Doyle ar­ranged for a meet­ing this week be­tween Min­is­ter Madi­gan and mem­bers of Wick­low Part­ner­ship, Wick­low Up­lands Coun­cil and Moun­taineer­ing Ire­land to dis­cuss the fu­ture of the iconic es­tate. Also present were Deputy Pat Casey, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the of­fice of Min­is­ter for Health Si­mon Har­ris and Bryan Fen­nell, Ru­ral Recre­ational Of­fi­cer with County Wick­low Part­ner­ship.

Speak­ing af­ter the meet­ing, Brian Dunne, Co­or­di­na­tor of Wick­low Up­lands Coun­cil said: ‘We are grate­ful to Min­is­ter Madi­gan for hold­ing the meet­ing to dis­cuss the im­por­tance of the Lug­gala es­tate, both as a cen­tre of recre­ational ac­tiv­ity and as an iconic film lo­ca­tion. Wick­low Up­lands Coun­cil con­tinue to ad­vo­cate that the Lug­gala es­tate be pur­chased by the state in or­der to pre­serve and pro­tect its sig­nif­i­cant built and nat­u­ral her­itage fea­tures and also to se­cure pub­lic ac­cess for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions’.

In Oc­to­ber, up to 30 peo­ple at­tended a protest out­side the en­trance to Lug­gala Es­tate in op­po­si­tion to the clo­sure of a pedes­trian gate each day at 5.30 p.m. Mr Dunne was heart­ened by Min­is­ter Madi­gan’s com­mit­ment to re­tain ac­cess to the es­tate for walk­ers.

‘We were greatly en­cour­aged to dis­cover that the is­sue of re­tain­ing recre­ational ac­cess to Lug­gala re­mains high on Min­is­ter Madi­gan’s agenda. We were re­as­sured that her depart­ment re­mained fully en­gaged with the process and that she clearly un­der­stood the value and po­ten­tial of the up­land es­tate,’ said Mr Dunne.

Min­is­ter of State An­drew Doyle also found the meet­ing help­ful.

‘The dif­fer­ent groups ex­pressed their own con­cerns, with a com­mon theme be­ing that of fu­ture pub­lic ac­cess to Lug­gala for recre­ational pur­poses, for hill walk­ers and for tourists with fur­ther em­pha­sis on its role as a film­ing des­ti­na­tion with the Vikings film­ing for six years now in this iconic set­ting. An­other con­trib­u­tor talked about Lug­gala’s po­ten­tial as a mu­sic con­cert venue,’ he said.

Land ad­ja­cent to Lug­gala Es­tate was pur­chased in 2006 and en­abled the join­ing up of two sec­tions of Wick­low Moun­tains Na­tional Park. Min­is­ter Doyle also wants to see the Govern­ment en­gage with talks over the State pur­chase of Lug­gala.

‘The es­tate with its sur­round­ing lands has all the in­gre­di­ents to be­come even more of a tourist, her­itage and amenity des­ti­na­tion and it is in­cum­bent on the State to en­gage in the sale process, pre­serv­ing this amenity and recog­nis­ing it’s strate­gic im­por­tance as part of our na­tional and cul­tural her­itage,’ said Min­is­ter Doyle.

At Oc­to­ber’s meet­ing of Wick­low County Coun­cil, Cllr Jen­nifer Whit­more re­ceived unan­i­mous sup­port af­ter she pro­posed writ­ing to Min­is­ter Madi­gan urg­ing her to pur­chase the site on be­half of the state, par­tic­u­larly due to Lug­gala’s im­por­tance to the lo­cal film in­dus­try.

‘To date, the im­pact of the sale of this site on the Wick­low film in­dus­try has not been con­sid­ered, and it’s good to see that it is now on the agenda,’ said Cllr Whit­more. ‘I have spo­ken to lo­ca­tion man­agers and oth­ers in the Ir­ish Film Board and the key point that was made by them all was that Lug­gala is the “jewel in the Crown” of the Ir­ish film in­dus­try and it would be a risk to our grow­ing film sec­tor, if that site wasn’t avail­able to in­ter­na­tional stu­dios.

‘I’m glad to see that this pub­lic pres­sure is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to the cam­paign to save Lug­gala and I hope that the Govern­ment makes the right de­ci­sion and pro­tects this strate­gi­cally im­por­tant site for cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. The film in­dus­try is of enor­mous strate­gic and eco­nomic im­por­tance to Wick­low and I be­lieve that we must do ev­ery­thing in our power to en­sure that this site re­mains open and avail­able for the in­dus­try and the pub­lic to ac­cess’.

Some of the share­hold­ers who at­tended the meet­ing with Min­is­ter Josepha Madi­gan.

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