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‘Public money should not be used’ – Laois Councillor fumes over Ploughing Association monument

Aisling Moran Ploughing

A Laois County Councillor says that public money should not be used to pay for the erection of a monument which commemorates the World Ploughing Championships.

Back in September, President Michael D Higgins unveiled a monument at the Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska.

The stone monument titled ‘Cairn of Peace’ was carved by McKeon Stone of Stradbally.

The cairn is made from stone that is 350 million years old and contains engraved insets from each of the 26 countries that took part.

The monument was then taken away before a permanent place for it could be found – which has now happened.

However, at a recent meeting of the Graiguecullen-Portarlington Municipal District, Fine Gael Councillor Aisling Moran questioned who was paying for the works.

She said: “Laois County Council should not be paying for the groundworks associated with the monument in Ratheniska.

“The National Ploughing Association are an extremely well run and profitable organisation.

“They cannot expect public money to pay for this.”

Cllr Moran asked engineer Philip McVeigh how much the work for the base and associated issues have cost – and was told it was in the region of €3,000 to €4,000.

She called on the Ploughing to cover this but her sentiments were not supported by her fellow Councillors.

Cllr Padraig Fleming said: “We have to remember that the Ploughing brings €50 million into the Laois economy.

“So I really wouldn’t be getting bogged down over this figure when you consider what comes in.”

Cllr PJ Kelly backed Cllr Fleming and said that the monument itself had been donated.

Cllr Moran said: “You say it has been donated – I want to know by who?

“The National Ploughing Association is a fantastic and wealthy orgainsation.

“For them to expect us to use public money for the base is simply not on.

“When the event was going on, a number of pipes were broken and the council fixed those.

“And now the National Ploughing Association want tax payers to pay for this.”

Cllr Moran also made reference to an article on BUSINESSPLUS.ie which says that the company has €11 million on their balance sheet which ‘nobody owns’.

Cathaoirleach of the Municipal, Cllr Paschal McEvoy, said that that was a serious allegation that he wouldn’t be commenting on.

He said: “You have to also remember that 20 or so GAA clubs get about €9,000 to €10,000 each for parking cars at the event.

“That is a serious amount of money for any club to get and anyone involved will tell you that.

“I have a major problem with some of the comments that have been made about the ploughing.”

SEE ALSO – Memorial 5km run for late Laois dad in aid of Teac Tom set to take place today

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.