by Faye Curran on Newstalk
Protestors have gathered on the Conor Pass to call on the State to buy it and turn it into a national park.

As one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland, the Conor Pass in Co Kerry provides a scenic way to travel from the north to south coast of the Dingle Peninsula through narrow, twisting roads.

In August it was announced that the Conor Pass had been put on the market for €10 million by the American individual who currently owns it.

This morning, protestors gathered at the scenic site to call on Minister of State Malcolm Noonan and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to ensure that the State buys Conor Pass and turns it into a national park.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Uplift Ireland Director Siobhán O'Donoghue said the Conor Pass is an area of "national, iconic, outstanding beauty and rich diversity".

"It's an international tourist attraction so, this is a fantastic opportunity for Malcolm Noonan, the Minister responsible for national parks, to ensure that it's saved and protected for the future," she said.

Save and Protect
Ms O'Donoghue said the pass needs to be "saved and protected" because Ireland is suffering from "extreme habitat destruction and nature loss".

"We haven't got enough land protected, we haven't got enough land in Ireland [where] the nature and wildlife and biodiversity diversity is protected – this would guarantee that," she said.

Ms O'Donoghue said turning the area into a national park does not necessarily mean it will become a "major destination" for tours.

"Communities are trying to make walking paths and entice eco-tourism as a way forward for communities that are really, really struggling to survive," she said.

"This is a perfect opportunity to do that."

Ms O'Donoghue said €10 million is not a lot for Government to spend considering "what is at stake".

"Right now, a very wealthy developer in the US owns the Conor Pass, he's even got a website trying to pawn it off internationally to God only knows who," she said.

"There are conversations right across Ireland at the moment about the state of our lakes and rivers.

"There are councils up and down the country trying to put in walkways through land to encourage walking and tourism and pathways – so there is a lot at stake actually."