Cllr Mickey Larkin
Sinn Féin Cllr Mickey Larkin has welcomed the news that a Wildlife Ranger will be assigned to the Cooley Mountains.
Cllr Larkin attended a public meeting last Friday with his colleague Cllr Antóin Watters from Dundalk/Carlingford in the Mullaghbuoy Community Centre in Riverstown, Co Louth.
Cllr Larkin said “Present at the public meeting were representatives from the IFA, Mountaineering Ireland and local walking groups. One thing that we all had in common was our love for the mountains and our wish to see their natural beauty preserved for future generations.”
Cllr Antóin Watters
Cllr Larkin said “The meeting was called following the recent spraying of yellow markings in the Cooley Mountains. It was agreed by all present that there needed to be more awareness of events being held on the mountains. All agreed that a ‘no trace’ approach would be best practice, basically to leave the Mountains as you found them.”
Cllr Larkin was also pleased to see that “the organisers are going to meet with local Gardaí to ensure that any future users of the mountain will use appropriate temporary markings and the group will work closely with the new Wildlife Ranger.”
Cllr Larkin reminded that “the Cooley Mountains are for all to enjoy and are important for local tourism. The area is one of outstanding beauty so I will raise this issue with Newry, Mourne & Down District Council and my colleague Cllr Antóin Watters will raise it with Louth County Council and we will also raise it at the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Group which deal with cross border issues between the two Councils. Let’s leave nature as we find it.”
L-R Helen Lawless (Mountaineering Ireland), Cllr Micky Larkin, Cllr Antóin Watters, Matthew McGreehan & Ciaran Sheelan (both Louth IFA)
Councillor Jim Loughran has called on off road vehicles such as quad bikes and scramblers, to stop causing damage to the Cooley Mountains and worrying sheep in the process.
The Dundalk/Carlingford councillor said “the Cooley Mountains are beautiful at this time of year and we should respect this wonderful gift we have here in County Louth. There are a few people using the mountains as a scrambling track and it is churning up the soil and earth and destroying the area for those of us who appreciate it.”
Jim Loughran continued “we are coming into lambing season which can be a fragile time for farmers. When you think back to the weather we had this time last year, in some parts we had sheep buried in the snow and lambs lost. This year, the sheep on the Cooleys are facing new difficulties with careless and selfish people chasing them on bikes and quads.”
A farming representative said “It is hard to settle sheep on spring pasture when they are being chased like this. Some of the pastures are churned up so badly that it's visible in satellite photos and there are concerns that Single Farm Payments will be affected."
However, this is a cross border problem. Similar damage had been done in the Ring of Gullion on the north side of the border. When Gardai attempt to stop these activities, the groups of people just escape over the border leaving Gardai frustrated.
Councillor Jim Loughran welcomed the fact that a new alliance of farmers, walkers and conservationists have come together to combat the serious damage being done by scramblers and quads in the Cooley Mountains and the Ring of Gullion. “There will be a public meeting on Wednesday 9th April in the Carrickdale Hotel, organised by this new alliance, to discuss the problem on both sides of the border and how we can move forward.”