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National Park’s new name ‘formally adopted’


NAME CHANGED The branding on the national park website no longer mentions ‘Ballycroy’ in the title.

Meeting hears Minister has ‘formally adopted’ new name

Anton McNulty

THE decision by the National Parks and Wildlife Service not to make themselves available to resolve the controversy over the name change of the Ballycroy National Park has been described as ‘an insult to the local community’.
Councillors in the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District expressed shock and disappointment after hearing a statement from Denis Strong, the Senior Divisional Manager with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), where he stated he will not be making him or his staff available to discuss any name changes to the national park.
The meeting of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District took place yesterday in the Ballycroy Community Centre in order for local representatives to discuss the renaming of the national park with the local community and the NPWS.
In the email which was received by the Cllr Christy Hyland, Cathaoirleach of the municipal district, Mr Strong said the decision to rename the national park, the Wild Nephin National Park, has been formally adopted by the Minister of State, Malcolm Noonan, TD.
“I will not be making myself or any of my staff available to discuss any name changes as we have already gone over this,” he said in the email.
Last year, councillors expressed solidarity with the people of Ballycroy who objected to the name of the Erris village being dropped from the official name of the national park. They called for a meeting with Minister Noonan to outline their opposition but the meeting was never granted.

Achill-based councillor Paul McNamara expressed disappointment saying that a compromise of rebranding the national park as the Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park had been proposed and it was an insult not to consider it.
“Now we are being told and the people of Ballycroy are being told that the name has been changed and this is what it is and its not up for discussion. That is an insult to the people of Ballycroy that the name Ballycroy has been totally disregarded. That is not acceptable,” he said.
Cllr McNamara added that this was the first time he heard of the name change being formally adopted by the minister and called for the minister to state when this occurred.
Westport councillor Brendan Mulroy was equally critical of Mr Strong’s comments saying that taking Ballycroy out of the official name will continue to be opposed.
“This is a sad day for rural Ireland and a kick in the teeth for local representatives. There will be no changes made to the [road] signs [for the national park] and that will not happen. If Mayo County Council want to grant planning permission for the change of signs they will be putting themselves in confrontation with this community and it time we stood up with the people of Ballycroy,” he said.

Erris disappointment
Erris councillor Seán Carey said the latest news was a real kick in the teeth to the local community and also called for an immediate meeting with the minister.
Fellow Erris based councillor Gerry Coyle said he did not agree with the name change but added that he found Mr Strong to be very capable and wanted to acknowledge the great work done in the national park.
Westport councillor Peter Flynn said he was disappointed with the strength of Mr Strong’s opposition to any compromise and suggested that all stakeholders sit down and thrash out a solution.
“We should try to get a private meeting set up with NPWS, Fáilte Ireland, the local TDs and  councillors and lets sit down and try to get resolved,” he said.