BRASS NECKS AND BALLS OF STEEL:THE BATTLE FOR THE METAL MAN

PINK

PINK

As some of you in Tramore may know there has been an ongoing effort by a community group to gain the Metal Man and his pillars and access to same by means of a cliff walk. At the eleventh hour another party has stalled the deal and in the last week some of us have been drowning in information and misinformation regarding this matter. Here is what I have found out.

To make things easier I am dividing this post up. The first a summary of the story as I see it drawing on information from all parties. Then there is a paragraph on each of the principals concerned and finally a paragraph about me.

I am the only individual named here for the simple reason that I do not want anyone to think this is a personal issue. Names of principals involved are readily available through their websites and other public outlets.

FULL MOON

FULL MOON

SUMMARY

Back in 2009, Tramore Tourism, a community group, was encouraged by the County Council to seek ownership of the Metal Man and his pillars, including the pillars at Brownstown, from the Commissioners of Irish Lights(CIL) who were prepared to gift them to an appropriate organisation. The County Council had refused ownership due to lack of money to develop and maintain the site. In summer 2010 CIL determined that Tramore Tourism were the best candidates.

It was necessary for Tramore Tourism to set up a legal entity to receive the pillars and Tramore Heritage Ltd. (THL)was born in October 2011. THL is limited by guarantee and is non-profit and public. None of the directors can sell the pillars or make profit from them. Tramore Heritage Ltd. has applied for charitable status which may take a year or so to be passed but when it is it will provide extra safeguards for the public.

There are various business people on the board of Tramore Heritage Ltd. and there was also a Tramore Town Councillor, who we will call Councillor N0.1, involved in bringing it into being and whose enthusiasm for the project was strong but by 2010 Councillor N0.1 had left the group.

Tramore Heritage Ltd. worked towards the transfer of the pillars from CIL. They also opened negotiations with the farmers on whose land the pillars stand to gain access. Access had previously been shut off due to failed attempts by the County Council to gain access.

They met with various people to discuss their plans in detail.The first of such meetings was in November 2011 and was attended by Councillor N0.1 along with other councillors and interested members of the public. A public meeting was called for and held in January 2012 in the civic offices in Tramore.

In September 2012 Councillor N0.1 set up a private company called Tramore Cultural Developments(TCD) a private company limited by shares. TCDs stated aims include to “assist individuals and organisations working to advance the preservation of the towns heritage.”

In December 2012 Councillor N0.1 wrote to An Taisce raising concerns regarding Tramore Heritage Ltd.s company status and fears that the pillars were falling into private hands.

An Taisce in turn wrote to the Town Manager  suggesting the deal be postponed until 2014 when Tramore Town Council would be dissolved, elections would take place and the new County Council could take on the ownership of the pillars they had already refused and lease it to a private company  prevent it falling into the hands of…a  private company.  No private company was named.

Since this letter was received Tramore Town Councillors are considering their options. In the mean time, on March 30th a Facebook page was set up purporting to be administrated by a 14-year-old boy and raising those same concerns about the possibility of the Metal Man falling into private hands.

Over the following days many of the posts and graphics on the pages concerned  Tramore Heritage Ltd. and its supposed private company status despite continued corrections and proof to the contrary from members of the public including myself. There was one direct attack in writing on a member of Tramore Heritage Ltd., now removed.

On April 3rd Councillor N0.1 began posting on this page whose aims were the same as hers. As she posted she continuously referred to Tramore Heritage Ltd. as a private company. She was continuously corrected by members of the public.

That page still stands at this time of writing and screen shots have been taken of the relevant posts.

That is the story so far.

Tomorrow, Tuesday the 9th of April, the Tramore Town Council vote. If Tramore Town Council vote to support this project CIL will go ahead with the transfer, if the Council vote against it then CIL will stop the transfer. Either way THL has said they will continue with this project and continue looking for support.

Below are screenshots from http://www.solocheck.ie showing the status of various companys whose names have come up during the debate.

SOME COMPANIES INVOLVED

A GRAPHIC SHOWING THE COMPANY STATUS OF TRAMORE HERITAGE LTD, HOOK HERITAGE LTD. AND TRAMORE CULTURAL DEVLOPMENTS LTD

SOME OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED

COMMISSIONERS OF IRISH LIGHTS(CIL)

The Commissioners of Irish Lights is the General Lighthouse Authority for all of Ireland, its adjacent seas and islands. The Metal Man and his pillars are defunct and they no longer want the responsibility of them.

HOOK HERITAGE

I am including these guys as they have come up in the debate. CIL continue to be involved in the Hook lighthouse as it is still operational but Hook Heritage runs the tourism end of things. Hook Heritage Ltd. is limited by guarantee in exactly the same way Tramore Heritage Ltd. is.

TRAMORE TOURISM

Tramore Tourism is a community group established in 1991 to promote Tramore and has many active members from various business sectors in the community. It works closely with many groups to promote the profile of the town. They were encouraged by the County Council back in 2009 to begin the process of obtaining the Metal Man.

TRAMORE HERITAGE LTD.

A legal entity set up by Tramore Tourism to receive the Metal Man and his pillars. It is limited by guarantee, it is non-profit and public. It has also been negotiating access, planning a cliff walk to the Metal Man and a trail that goes from the Metal Man right to the dunes. It’s directors are local people of various types of experience and backgrounds. To date its accountant, solicitor and surveyor have worked for them pro bono. If Tramore Heritage is ever wound up the pillars will go to the next appropriate community group.

I personally have found all their information clear and consistent and they are completely available to anyone interested in this issue.

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TRAMORE HERITAGE LTDs PLAN FOR THEIR HERITAGE TRAIL

TRAMORE TOWN COUNCIL

To be dissolved next year when the Waterford City and County Councils are amalgamated. Some Town Councillors already have a County Council seat. Some do not. Town Councillors to the best of my knowledge do not get paid.It is the Tramore Town Council who is voting on whether or not to support the project. If they don’t support it the project does not go ahead.

WATERFORD COUNTY COUNCIL

No matter who owns the Metal Man and the land around him they will always be subject to local planning laws and so in a way the County Council will always have control over the development of this area. The County Council previously tried to get access to the Metal Man and failed. The County Council encouraged and fully support the transfer of the pillars.

AN TAISCE

I am going to reveal my ignorance here and tell you I thought that we had no equivalent of the UKs National Trust and any time I saw the name An Taisce I always thought it had something to do with fish.. 🙂 An Taisce must be informed of any developments in areas where there are archeological, environmental or architectural concerns. Local authorities are required to consult with them on certain applications.

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THE PILLARS AT WESTOWN BEFORE THEY WERE PAINTED BY A LOCAL BUSINESS MAN.

COUNCILLOR N0.1

I do not know this councillor personally though she was in school a couple of years or so behind me. I had heard only good things when she first came on the scene, I think just after the Garrarus debacle and had heard nothing more until last week.

Councillor N0.1 is very strongly in favour of postponing a vote on transferring the pillars to next year, election year, persuading the County Council to change their mind and take ownership and then leasing them to a private company.

Councillor N0.1 has recommended that we all work together and described plans for a heritage trail in the same place that THL has been planning theirs.

Councillor N0.1 is a director of Tramore Cultural Developments Ltd. a private company guaranteed by shares. Councillor N0.1 has said she has no personal interest in gaining the pillars and has expressed her care for the land at Westown in this passage taken from FaceBook post. I have left out the sentence that refers to her family name.

The seven generations of my family that have preceded me cared for the Metal Man and raised families in its shadow. The cliff face that fell away over time was once the land my family used to provide food…….As such the cliff land the Metal Man stands on and the traditional pathway to the Metal Man was once land my ancestors used.

It is a passage that a cynical person might say is a claim on that land but I have recently been introduced to land that my family owned generations ago and it is beautiful too so I understand that sort of attachment but it is not my land, that is far in the past. I like to draw my pride in my family from current acheivements and future possibilities. But I digress, we should move forward…

april 14th

EVENING

THE FACEBOOK PAGE

The page that was set up by a 14-year-old to raise concerns about the transfer of the pillars to THL is probably the murkiest issue here. The page is rife with misinformation but plenty of adults have taken the information bandied about at face value too. It is surprisingly difficult to continue to believe one thing even when you have solid proof when another person is repeatedly, continuously stating the opposite.

Still, it is hard to understand how any adults around this boy did not encourage him to research his facts, how they had no apparent qualms about seeing him go into the public realm without the protection of correct information. Even 5 minutes on Google would have been enough to find out that Tramore Heritage Limited is a public company.

It is understandable that people would have concerns over the transfer of the Metal Man and they should be aired(or should have been aired a long time ago) but it is one thing to stick your head out a trench, quite another stick a child out of it which whether intended or not this is what it looks like.

As it stands this page is still in existence and up until its last post was posting information that was proven incorrect. I think that all members of the public were respectful to the boy and quite a few of us came to believe that there were hidden administrators because we did not believe he was responsible for the information and some of the comments of this page.

I believe it would have been too much to ask to expect everyone to let the information on this page go unchallenged as it was and is in the public domain and this is an important issue for Tramore.

cross the fields

ACROSS THE FIELDS

THE FARMERS

A fact that is getting passed over a lot here is that the Metal Man is on private land as it has always been. All the land around here is farmed, the roads painted with glorious splodges of cow shit, the green fields reaching to the  red cliffs and the sea. I do not know the landowners personally though I pass them on a daily basis and have swapped smiles and hellos but we go about our own business.

Years ago there was access to the Metal Man(my brother got chased by a horse when we were crossing to it one time) but due to bungled attempts by the County Council to get official access the way was closed in frustration a couple or more decades ago and I have understood that is unlikely another attempt by the Council would be welcomed.

To offer some more insight, a couple of years ago when a group of developers supported by the Town and County Councils were looking for land on which to build a golf course and hotel they focussed on Westown but their offers to buy were in vain and the developers had to move further from Tramore to Garrarus and beyond where the offer of money sent five or six farmers falling like dominoes down the coast.

All this I tell you to make it clear that even if the County Council were persuaded to take control of the Metal Man and lease it to a private company, that private company would still have to gain access to the land and though I do not speak for the landowners and have no right to I do know one thing. The Metal Man is not the only one with steel balls around here.

BROWNSTOWN HEAD

The pillars at Brownstown are also being gifted by CIL and the landowner there is delighted to be a possible part of a long coastal trail.

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BROWNSTOWN HEAD FROM NEWTOWN COVE

ME

Who the hell am I to talk?Well, my name is Clare Scott and I live in  Westown(or actually Westtown as it is on the maps)and have lived here for the last 7 and a half years but I didn’t live here a hundred years ago and I won’t live here a hundred years from now. Previously I have lived in Waterford, Amsterdam and Edinburgh. I grew up in Tramore from the age of four though I was born in the UK where my parents had emigrated for work.

Aside from  some letter writing and fund raising to stop the development at Garrarus community work is not a big a part of my life and sometimes I think it should be. Mind you I am making up for it in the last week  as the stalks of my eyeballs are entirely plaited after days of trawling through information and I have just done 7 solid hours at this PC today so far with no food or drink.

I hope from these efforts that people will not only gain some clarity regarding the issue at hand but will understand that I am not anti-development, I am just anti-stupid stuff.

I do admire people who work for the community as a regular part of their lives. Any time I get involved in any thing the infighting and pettiness puts me right off .

This latest debacle has made me realise that being an independent person with no affiliations or allegiances actually has some currency and that there may be a place after all for the outsider. Maybe a vital place.

If you asked me what it was that I really wanted on this issue it would be for everyone to stay away from this beautiful place and don’t be annoying me but I know I wouldn’t get anywhere 🙂 and if this land is to be opened up I for one, speaking as a current resident here, want it done properly. This means, if anyone is any doubt, that I am firmly in favour of the Council voting to approve this transfer to Tramore Heritage Limited so they can get on with opening it up.

**********

NOTE:

Directors of the various companies mentioned are publicly available.

The landowners are due their privacy.

The Councillor mentioned here has has been public with her feelings and views and I feel I have represented them correctly using her own words. There are  eight other councillors but they warranted little or no mention here whether for or against or undecided.

I met with members of Tramore Heritage last week on their invitation, one of a few invitations from that side and one which they extended to the public in general and to people in particular such as the admin of the FaceBook page. I received no invitations to talk with anyone else and felt I had enough information from other sources to make my mind up.

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BEAUTIFUL

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19 responses to “BRASS NECKS AND BALLS OF STEEL:THE BATTLE FOR THE METAL MAN

  1. Claire ,great time and effort put in to this subject.I am fully informed now and was going to look through all the blogs/face book ,so thanks for saving me lots of time
    Derek Palmer

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  2. Thanks a mill Derek, good to get feedback and I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Its a knotty issue and I couldn’t rest until I had untangled it a bit 🙂

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  3. Congrats on an non-partial, informative and very articulate piece Claire. Makes for great reading.. I do hope that the ‘Ears& Eyes of the Metal Man,’ are as interested in this factual information as ‘The Voice of the Metal Man’ administrators/supporters.

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    • Thanks Sue. Good to hear. Yes I hope information here can help in clearing up this matter and allow the Tramore to move forward with this project 🙂

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  4. nice to get some info on the debate… thanks. Seems politicians are going to use it for personal and/or political gain. so tired of this state, and people forgetting it’s a community and needs to be run by one. Not by these current crop of people who seem to have self interest/promotion at heart.

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting Killian, great to get feedback. Yes completely agree and many seem to hide behind reams of unintelligible information and so its good to get some clear info out there. There are some people in the mix though who want to keep this project moving forward and hopefully tomorrow will see some good news. Fingers crossed….

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  5. Live in Tramore myself for a number of years and currently out of the country. I have heard multiple rumors through Facebook and to be honest didnt have a clue what was going on! This piece really summed it up very very well, well done!

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  6. Thanks for all your comments lads, I am really glad this piece has helped and I am glad I happened to have sometime on my hands to do it. I found it difficult to get to the nub of the matter and I developed some strong opinions along the way but I really felt getting the information laid out was the most important thing as its everyones concern and the more people get involved in public matters the more chance we have of healing this country. Thanks again for taking the time to comment 🙂

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  7. Given the history of Irish local and national politics, associated business people and their unpaid attachments gaining for themselves or others will plague the Irish people until the end of time. One could understand the mentality in this complicated legal age, that when told facts correct or not, will still wonder what they are not being told. You have to understand skepticism at all levels fact based or not. If this article is how it is, with no hidden agenda, “GREAT” I say. I’ll look forward to monitoring this article for any coherent arguments that we may be unaware of any issues here, but it would also be nice if not a lot at all could be said and it is simply what it is, how refreshing would that be? Seems like good information so far, well done for your time.

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  8. HI Mark, thanks for your comment. Yes I agree entirely we should be skeptical and this is how this piece was born. As for changing this piece well I won’t be, it is what is now I guess. It was initially intended to gather information and present it, allowing the readers to join their own dots while making it clear what side I had come down on. I think there’s enough info here now to at least make a person stop and think and I would encourage anyone to do their own research and not take anything as gospeI. I have tried to be as correct as I can with the information available at the time of writing. I may write an opinion piece further down the line when the dust has settled about my opinion what has gone in this instance. Thanks again for taking the time Mark.

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    • I think it is finally gone today Sue and long past the time for it too. Other good news is that the vote passed five to four at a heated Council meeting. Unfortunately there are still people, including and especially the press, who are under the impression that the misinformation going around is for real. Hopefully they will not trip this effort up a second time.

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  9. I am closing comments now because I think it would be extremely unhelpful at this point to start more back and forth on this issue online especially on a personal blog that has obviously come down on one side rather than a dedicated open forum. I feel there has been too much obsfucation elsewhere online so far and it has proven too easy for people to hide or doubt identities elsewhere online though everyone has been great here I have to say. I have provided a lot of the information that I felt was important to this issue and you are free to take or leave it. This is a personal blog and my posts represent me and only me. Though I will keep tabs I am ready to get my life back and turn off my PC 🙂 I hope I was of some help. If anyone needs more info they need to question the principals in this case. Question everything in fact and keep yer eyes peeled for Tramore Heritages public meeting. Thanks again for reading everyone and for the comments too, again much appreciated. Clare

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