CDA - Annual General Meeting 2017

The Castletownbere Development Association held their Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 in The Beara Coast Hotel, Castletownbere. The meeting was well attended by members of the local community and local County Councillors’, Cllr. Patrick Gerard Murphy & Cllr. Danny Collins.

The meeting commenced with Outgoing Chairperson, Darren Lynch, welcoming all in attendance to the AGM and this was followed with the reading of the minutes from the previous years AGM by outgoing Secretary, Rozalyn Williams, and these were adopted.

Outgoing Treasurer, Alice Harrison, then proceeded to give her financial report for 2016, which showed an increased income of approximately €7,000 over the previous year. She put this increase down primarily to the success of the monthly fundraising bingo nights and again this report was adopted.

Chairperson, Darren Lynch presented his report on the events & projects undertaken during the year and started by thanking the Main Sponsors, Murphy’s SuperValu Castletownbere & Celtic Sea Minerals and all others who contributed to the CDA during the year. He gave a run through the main community events organised over the year and made special mention to the excellent work done by, Anne Marie Cronin, in her ongoing commitment in the running of the very successful Castletownbere St. Patrick's Day Parade.

“The Ring of Beara Cycle Kenmare is another key event that helps promote the town in a positive light to the 3,800+ participants that will pass through again this May”, Darren told the meeting. He announced that the proceeds of this year’s cycle will be donated to the Castletownbere Hospital and that 500 of the cyclists will start & finish in the town. “This will give a boost to the local hospitality sector ahead of the summer period.”

Darren urged the incoming committee to continue to grow the Castletownbere Festival of the Sea and to keep the Maritime theme going as that is the town’s best asset. He made mention of last year’s festival being one of the biggest in recent times, even though Regatta Monday was a complete washout for the second year in a row.

Thanks were extended to everyone that volunteered their time to the running of Castletownbere Run in September and the ‘Haunted Church’ at Halloween.

For the Christmas period, Darren commended the tireless commitment of the Christmas Newsletter editorial committee of, Dorothy Brophy, Sandra O’Shea & Michael Downey, for the time and effort they put into the ever growing publication & to Joan Kelly who distributes them around the businesses.

In relation to the Christmas Lights & Tree, he thanked; Donal Kelly - Fastfish Ltd, Chris Downey - Murphy’s SuperValu Castletownbere, Gavin Power - Gavin Power Construction LTD & Miah O’Sullivan - Castletownbere Construction Ltd. for the use of their forklifts & teleporters, to help with erecting the lights & Tree and electricians Conor Twomey & Seamus Harrington for helping to connect up the various power points. Castletownbere Gaa Club was thanked for providing the impressive tree and anyone that helped in anyway on the night of the turning on of the lights.

Darren then proceeded to give updates on the various projects the CDA are involved in within the town, he started by explaining that the purchase of St. Peters Church is in the final stages and hopes that the final contracts can be signed soon. He explained that Cork County Council granted €14,000 for the redevelopment of the Playground and that the community has to provide match funding of another €14,000, which is being raised by the Monthly Bingo Nights. In relation to the Public Toilets, he confirmed that Cork Co Co plan to commence the €40,000 refurbishment works by the end of March and that the incoming committee will be keeping pressure on to see that these works will happen.

The first stage of the ongoing Traffic Management Plan, being carried out by Aecon consulting engineers, on behalf of the County Council, is almost complete and the second public consultation is due in April or May. The new pier development is also in its early stages and it is thought that the planning applications will be submitted in the coming weeks, Darren told the meeting.

A key piece of infrastructure affecting the progression of the town is the Wastewater Treatment System, which has been proposed for the last 40 years or more, but has never commenced. Darren provided a very welcome update, that the CDA has been lobbying our local T.D’s in recent months to try and see when these woks might be carried out and that a response was received from Fine Gael TD, Jim Daly Public Representative, which said; “The project is now approved to proceed to the Detailed Design & Planning stage. Following that, the next phase will continue through the latter part of 2018. Construction would then be expected to commence in 2019 with a duration of 12-18 months.”

Darren concluded by personally thanking everyone in the community for the support he had received in his two years as chairperson and he wished Cian Murphy and the incoming committee all the best of success for the year ahead. He then stood down the outgoing committee and invited, Noel Harrington, to chair the election of officers for the coming year.

The following were elected;
Chairperson; Cian Murphy,
Vice Chair; Noel Forde,
Secretary; Mark Golden,
Vice Secretary; Rozalyn Williams,
Treasurer; Celina Sheehan,
Assistant Treasurer; Christina Saridakis,
PRO; John Galvin,
Development Officer; Darren Lynch,
Event Coordinators; Killian Martin-Sullivan & Kieran Murphy,
Committee Members; Alice Harrison, Andrea Lotty, Grace Delaney, Joanne Kelly, Siobhan Murphy & Viktorija Gecaite.

Noel wished the incoming committee every success for the year.

Newly elected Chairperson, Cian Murphy, then addressed the floor. Firstly, he thank everyone for coming to the meeting & said

“It’s encouraging for a new committee to see so many people take an interest in the CDA’s activities. Thank you to Noel for presiding over the election of officers. Also, a massive thank you to Darren, our outgoing chairman for his work over the last 2 years. The work and commitment he gave to the CDA was outstanding.”

Cian continued, “For me personally it’s a huge honour to be taking over as Chairman of the CDA. I was dragged to a meeting 5 years ago and little did I think 5 years later I would be sitting here as chairman, but I’m very excited and looking forward to the next 2 years. I think everyone here can see that the CDA has gone from strength to strength and that is solely due to the commitment and enthusiasm of the committee members, I’m delighted to see that so many of the old committee are staying on, as well as seeing so many new faces joining.”

He mentioned how “the CDA is in a great position at the moment, with many exciting projects coming up over the next few years. The CDA is going from organising 13 events last year to 24 this year, which just shows the progress and enthusiasm out there.”

Cian took this opportunity to remember the vision of the founding members 10 years ago this year. “At the outset they focused on putting in the right structures and policy’s which I have seen first-hand makes our lives much easier. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Noel Forde, Donal Kelly, Kathleen Twomey, Anne-Marie Cronin, Noel Murphy, Michael Downey, Darren Lynch, Colman O’Sullivan, Paul Kelly and Michael Harrington. It’s these people that brought the CDA to where it is today.”

Cian then outlined some of his plans for the year ahead and he started by telling the floor that he had requested an update from Local Area Engineer, Aidan Prendergast, on the councils plans for the next 12months, the key point from this; “It is very disappointing that the days have been cut for street sweeping and litter picking. The CDA will formally write to Cork County Council expressing our disappointment and requesting they reinstate the 5 days.” He made mention of the ongoing traffic study and that as there was no formal plan at this time, he would not be taking questions on this, but will be keeping the community briefed as and when further information becomes available.

Moving onto the upcoming year, Cian Said, “The first event we will be involved in is the St Patrick's Day Parade, we are incredibly lucky to have Anne Marie Cronin who organises the day, and we assist in traffic management and body’s on the ground. I just want to acknowledge Anne Marie for the amount of work she puts in every year and for the fantastic parade.”

He explained that in, the last weekend in March the CDA along with Tidy Towns and Murphy’s SuperValu are organising a town spring clean. “It’s the perfect time, we are just coming into the tourist season, and we are hoping it will create a bit of pride and community spirit. Also on that day, the CDA will be power hosing and revamping the square. On behalf of the community, we will be unveiling a bench in the square dedicated to the late, Sean ‘The Buck’ O’Sullivan.” Further details of this day will be finalised in the coming week.

He continued to outline various plans for events over the Easter Bank Holiday, the Ring of Beara Cycle Kenmare and the June Bank Holiday and that the CDA are open to suggestions for and ideas for these events.

In relation to the August Bank Holiday Cian said, “It’s our biggest event & is growing year on year. For the last two years we have been slightly hampered by weather. We have a few new projects and events in the pipe line for this year’s festival. As I said already, we are open to ideas for the week, If you or your business have an idea, would like to run an event or sponsor an event, just let us know.”

Last September Castletownbere had its first every taste trail as part of A taste of West Cork. Organised by Loraine Downey it was a huge success. This year the CDA are delighted to be getting behind this event, with more and more Restaurants and Cafes opening in Castletownbere we are really putting ourselves on the map for great food in West Cork.

Also in September, we have the Wild Atlantic Run, this year we are hoping to change the route slightly, but this will be confirmed closer to the time.

Moving onto Halloween, our Haunted Garden in the grounds of St. Peters Church has been a huge success, we had over 200 people through the gate last year. This year we are going to change it up slightly, possibly hosting a scary torch lit parade or Trick or Treat Trail.

Last year with the assistance of Murphy’s SuperValu we extended the Christmas lights from Murphy’s Restaurant to Mediterranean House. This year we hope to improve the lights in the west end of the town, if budget allows.

Throughout the year we will be hosting our monthly Bingo Nights. They have surpassed all our expectations; we are averaging over 160 people a night, drawing people from as far as Glengarriff, Kenmare & Bantry. As many of you will know already, the money raised at the bingo is held in a separate account and used for capital projects. Our first project is the playground; once the matched funding target of €14,000 is reached we hope to start work right away.

Cian proceeded to explain about an exciting new initiative; “We have been looking at ways in which we can encouraging people to shop local. It is our intention to introduce, with the input of the business community, a shop local initiative. We would hope to do this by introducing a loyalty card which would be stamped by the participating businesses. Each participating business will receive a unique stamp, if a customer spends €10 or more they receive a stamp. A person must collect 10 unique stamps. Once a card is full they are entered into a prize draw. We are hoping that prize draws will take place on the opening of the Festival of the Sea and the switching on of the Christmas lights. In this way we hope to encourage people to shop local and spend local and support the businesses who support us. A member of the committee will call to each business to explain the concept in full. We are hoping to launch over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.”

Cian Concluded the meeting, “I have a few people I would like to thank, firstly our sponsors because none of the events or projects would be possible without them. I am also delighted to announce tonight that our two main sponsors; Murphys’ SuperValu and Celtic Sea Minerals, have committed to remaining on as main sponsors of our programme of events for the next 3 years, this is fantastic news for the CDA. Secondly I would like to thank the outgoing officers for their commitment and work over the last number of years, it was often challenging, never boring and always good fun. Lastly, I would like to thank the incoming committee for giving of their time and I look forward to working together over the coming years. As everyone can see, we have an incredibly busy year ahead; I’m excited to get stuck into all the ongoing projects.”

Cian then invited comments and opened up the floor for discussion:
Ella Harrington asked, what was the plan for the Castletownbere playground? Cian explained that Local Area Engineer, Aidan Prendergast had asked us as a community group to apply for matched funding from the Council, which we did and got. So we are in the process of raising €14,000 (Bingo) in order to receive another €14,000. Whenever that funding is drawn down, Aidan has a plan for work to be done to the playground so it will be in his hands. It is remaining at the same site.

Ella Harrington also spoke about the Ring of Beara Cycle Kenmare, saying she was initially not a fan, but last year she really saw the benefit of it to Castletownbere. She did suggest that this year a lot more advance notice be given to road users in particular Lorries. Anne Marie Cronin and Sandra O'Shea agreed that the negotiation of the roads was near impossible and the behaviour of the cyclists left a lot to be desired. Cian replied that the organisers were actually due in Castletownbere for a meeting the next day and he would raise those points. Also Darren Lynch is still on the cycle committee and he stated that whilst all cyclists were given safety statements before the cycle, with the sheer numbers it was bound to cause a certain degree of annoyance to drivers, but at the end of the day the benefit to Beara and the possibility of €25,000 for Castletownbere Hospital outweighed all that. Brian Murphy agreed that it was lovely to see the peninsula being promoted via the cycle and Paddy O'Sullivan said that the food stop in Castletownbere was very well organised. Johnny Power asked do the cycle organisers give anything to the CDA? Darren answered that question; replying that after food and all other costs were covered, 100% of the surplus profit goes to charity. He also informed the floor that the accounts are public if anybody wanted to look at them.

Ella Harrington spoke about the huge loss of Sean ‘The Buck’ O'Sullivan, RIP, to Castletownbere. There is a marked deterioration of the litter situation since his passing and it shows that he really went beyond the remit of his job in order to keep our town clean and tidy. The quality of the work being done by his replacement is below par. Sandra O'Shea remarked that there seems to be a lot of tidying work done at the East End but none at the West End of the town. Even the maintenance of grass verges and weeds growing up through footpaths was becoming a problem for the Council workers to keep on top of. Cian responded that the CDA would be organising a massive "Spring Clean" soon in which ideas and direction would hopefully come from the public. Kieran Murphy said that Glengarriff seemed to have some Scheme workers keeping on top of the litter there all throughout the year, to which Sandra O'Shea asked if Castletownbere could not get some Scheme workers, being the bigger town. Annemarie Cronin said that is was her understanding that Scheme workers were pooled for the whole Beara area, so if we got one in Castletownbere, they would have to be taken from another area.

Independent County Councillor, Danny Collins, commended the CDA and said that he thought the AGM had gone very well. In response to the comments about the litter situation, he said “that he, too, was very frustrated at the situation with Cork County Council staff at the moment. There is still an embargo in place on hiring of new staff and they are now voting about going on strike. These problems are going on in Bantry and other towns too.” He said that “he will do his very best to work with the committee and that he could be contacted any time”.

Fianna Fáil County Councillor, Patrick Gerard Murphy, commented that “the Council are suffering huge budget cuts and losing staff, therefore it is impossible to keep up the same standard of service”. He advised the CDA to look into the TUS Rural Social Scheme, and Cian said it would be a matter of priority for the CDA.

Ella Harrington also pointed out that illegal dumping is becoming a bigger problem here. Aaron Byrne said that people are dumping illegally for the sake of saving themselves €3.00 to get into the local Council waste transfer station. Kieran Murphy said that it was his understanding that the Council have actually had to reduce the number of bins in Castletownbere because they were being abused and used for illegal dumping of domestic waste. Jeff Condell of Celtic Sea Minerals said that he thought it was totally wrong that there was an entrance fee to use the waste transfer station. He also said that with the correct machinery the streets could be kept clean even with parked cars. He has seen this approach in other cities around the world.

Paddy O'Sullivan stated "that the town is clean on a Friday evening and a mess by the end of the weekend, so who is causing the problem?" It was his opinion that it is our youth. Siobhan Murphy stated that she did not believe this to be true. It is down to whoever is illegally dumping domestic waste in the Council bins and then gulls and cats get at it and spread it around town. Sandra O'Shea said that she had seen local chipper staff going out into the town in the early hours and tidying up litter after the busy weekend nights.

Noel Forde said that the newly proposed CCTV system for Castletownbere should help cut out the illegal dumping.

Cian said that the CDA would be lobbying the various local representatives on all of these issues but was pleased that it appeared that there is a keen appetite to deal with the litter issue.

The meeting concluded, with Cian thanking everyone for coming out to the meeting and that he looked forward to working with the community in the coming years.