Elected members of Killarney Municipal District Council are divided over the future of Plunkett St.
Two years ago the council introduced a pedestrian-only plan for the street between 7pm and 7am every day.
The recently elected council met for the first time on Tuesday July 2 and one of the hottest topics on the agenda was two proposals by elected members to reverse the decision and re-open the street to traffic as soon as possible.
Cllr Niall O’Callaghan, who was back in the chamber after a five year absence tabled a motion to reverse the decision to pedestrianise the street. He said the barrier at the top of the street is creating a perception that the town centre ends at the barrier and people are turning around at this point and not visiting businesses along College St.
“Business is down 25 per cent on College St,” he told the meeting.
The motion was backed by Cllr Donal Grady who called for the street to be re-opened as soon as possible, and like O’Callaghan he felt that barrier was effecting business in the area.
Opposition for the plan came from both councillor Brendan Cronin and Mayor Michael Gleeson.
“What we have created is a family friendly street where people with buggies or wheelchairs can comfortably relax,” said Cronin. “In the run up to the election I spoke to only three people that had negative views on the street. Killarney is 20 years behind, when it comes to pedestrianising compared to other, even smaller, tourist towns. Business is down because of Brexit and other reasons but not because of Plunket Street.”
Mayor Gleeson supported Cronin’s motion.
“I have been a very strong advocate of pedestrianising in Killarney,” he said. “Pedestrianising is fundamental to the financial well-being of the town.”
A survey of businesses effected by the closure is being carried out by Killarney Municipal District Council but as the closure was sanctioned via a Section 38 order a second Section 38 process including public consultations would have to carried out before the decision could be reversed.