Kerry council loses bid to remove ‘unauthorised’ Healy-Rae sign

Local authority claimed the large sign was a distraction to road users

 Michael Healy Rea TD, pictured at Leinster House last year, said the publicity sign  was ‘demountable’ and had a number of uses. Photograph by Crispin Rodwell for the Irish Times

Michael Healy Rea TD, pictured at Leinster House last year, said the publicity sign was ‘demountable’ and had a number of uses. Photograph by Crispin Rodwell for the Irish Times

 

Kerry County Council has failed in a circuit court application to have the TD Michael Healy-Rae remove a large advertising sign of himself from the gable of his property at Gortnaboul in Kilgarvan.

The council had acted too late, and the “development” which was erected in 2011, without planning permission, was beyond the seven year cut off by the time the council issued proceedings, Judge Terence O’Sullivan found.

The council’s application under Section 160 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 was before the Circuit Civil Court in Killarney on Thursday

The council sought the removal of the sign, measuring 4.8 metre wide and 2.24 metres high, from the gable wall of the TD’s building at Top of the Cross, Gortnaboul, Kilgarvan.

The sign describes Mr Healy-Rae as the village’s “No I TD” and declares his “Hard work, Experience, Common Sense”.

In affidavit before the court, dated November 2020, planning enforcement officer with Kerry County Council Jim Fox claimed the sign on the side of a building on the R569 was a distraction to road users at a critical point on the roadway where traffic was turning.

Mr Fox said the sign was not exempt as claimed by Mr Healy-Rae in correspondence on foot of enforcement proceedings. The sign was not present on dates in 2013 and 2014, it was unauthorised and it should be removed, Mr Fox said.

However, Mr Healy-Rae, in a replying affidavit, said it was first erected in 2011, adding it was “a demountable sign” and had a number of uses.

The sign would be temporarily removed from the gable and “used as a promotional advertisement throughout the county of Kerry,” he said.

“I would not countenance that my sign be the cause of confusion to road users,” he said, submitting the findings of an engineer to back this up.

Judge O’Sullivan said traffic hazard was not an issue for him to decide. “My sole issue is whether the application under planning legislation is too late,” the judge said.

“There was a development in 2011. The local authority didn’t move until too late.”

The judge awarded the TD’s legal team two thirds of their costs.

A separate application by the council to force Danny Healy-Rae TD to remove a colourful sign over his pub on Main Street Kilgarvan was adjourned.

He is contesting the matter.