15 July 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

A maturity of approach was evident on both sides when representatives of the Lough Muckno Community Partnership met the members of Monaghan Co Council to discuss a strategy for the future development of a Mid-Monaghan amenity long regarded as having enormous, if frustratingly untapped, potential to lead the growth of our county’s ‘Cinderella’ tourism industry into a substantial component of the local economy.
To applaud experienced local authority representatives on the one hand and responsible and dedicated community leaders on the other for a ‘grown-up’ approach to a subject of such evidently mutual benefit might seem to border on the patronising.
But the recent history of attempts to hone the Muckno ‘jewel’ into the most glittering of our county’s natural assets is a complex and contentious one. There was a time in the recent past when the issue provoked high feelings among the Castleblayney populace and excited tensions in the relationship between the community and the Co Council that seemed to make any meaningful progress on the future development of Muckno an intractable conflict beyond satisfactory resolution.
Thankfully both sides appeared to have cast off the loggerheads legacy. As Joe Brennan, a redoubtable champion of the community interest on the Muckno issue, phrased it so succinctly at the recent summit: “We are where we are, and want to move on positively.”
The next stop on that road to progress is a meeting between the Partnership and the Co Council’s Lough Muckno sub-committee to determine what practical form an alliance between the two could take, a formula that is due to be presented to the full Co Council membership when they resume their public meetings after the summer recess.
It is understandable – and appeared to be astutely appreciated by the Partnership delegation – that the local authority would recoil from the suggestion of any form of leasing arrangement to facilitate the implementation of the protection and development proposals being advocated by the community leaders in their development strategy.
The phrase, even in the less than legalistic sense in which it was presumably employed by the Partnership, carries with it uncomfortable associations for the Co Council, who are determined, once ongoing issues are resolved by judicial decision or legal negotiation, to restore to themselves and retain the governing say in the future destiny of the Muckno facility.
But it does not of course take formally drafted agreements and contractual arrangements to sow the fertile ground that so evidently exists for the local authority and the local people of Castleblayney to cultivate their shared interest in the realisation to the full of the rich potential inherent in this magnificent resource.
The confidence that Acting Co Manager David Fallon expressed in the Co Council being able to pursue a workable alliance with the ‘Blayney community is well founded. The Community Partnership made clear that it saw its role as complementary rather competitive. “You lay the laws, and we will be on the ground enforcing them,” as Chairman Declan Connolly put it.
The Partnership’s strategic development document has force and coherence, and bears the powerful imprimatur of endorsement by a range of stakeholder interests. Proffered to the Council in good faith, it offers a fine basis for negotiation.
It is long past time when the beauty of Lough Muckno was brought to full maturity for the people of Castleblayney who cherish it, and the many potential visitors out there waiting to be beguiled by its features. Hopefully the maturity so far displayed by the two key groupings key to its future will bear fruit – and this long-touted ‘jewel in the crown’ will shine brightly in all its many facets.

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