Angry North Tipp road users promise to keep on protesting 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

A PACKED Hall in the village of Aglish vented its frustration at the "appalling" condition of the roads in North Tipperary on Monday evening.

The Chair of the meeting, Patrick Hogan, welcomed everyone to Aglish Hall including Cllrs Joe Hannigan, Ger Darcy, Seamus Morris and Deputy Michael Lowry. He said Cllr Michael O'Meara was unable to be present due to the passing of his mother, Moira. He extended the meeting's deepest sympathies to Cllr O'Meara on his very sad loss.

  Mr Hogan told the attendees that this "is not a meeting for attacking our public representatives. If that happens I will bring the meeting to a close. I would ask you to remain respectful in your comments."

  He pointed out that the roads of Lower Ormond are in a disgraceful state. He said the area of Lower Ormond covers a wide region including Ardcroney, Ballingarry, Borrisokane, Kilbarron, Aglish, Coolbawn, Modreeny, Terryglass, Monsea, Finnoe, Lorrha, Dromineer and Riverstown.

He said rural Ireland is being grossly neglected in favour of Dublin and is dying. Last weekend a national newspaper published an article with the headline "Rural Ireland RIP" and it focussed on Banagher and the number of shops which have closed in the south Offaly town.

 Mr Hogan pointed out that the bad roads are not only dangerous and damaging, they are also slowing down the emergency services including the fire service and ambulances. 

He said he heard that cyclists going through Borrisokane get off their bikes because the condition of the roads are so bad in the town.

He sympathised with the residents of Terryglass who have to contend with Roran Road, a 1.7km stretch that links Borrisokane and Terryglass, and which has not been resurfaced or upgraded for up to 40 years.

"From the large crowd present here this evening," commented Deputy Michael Lowry, "it is obvious that there is a lot of frustration and anger with the condition of our roads. This problem is not just confined to Lower Ormond. It is a nationwide issue." He said the materials which the Council workers are using to repair the Tipperary roads "are not up to standard." He said the core of the problem is a lack of funding. In 2007 the funding for regional roads nationwide was €600 million. By 2015 it had dropped to €255 million. The funding is rising each year but there is a long way to go.

  "I have raised this problem at the highest level," he continued. "I had a face to face meeting with Minister Shane Ross and I was disappointed with the meeting. I felt he wasn't approaching the problem with the appropriate frame of mind."

 Cllr Joe Hannigan said he recently drove all the roads of Lower Ormond with the Council's engineer and they graded all the roads from those in the worst condition to those in the best. He and Cllr Ger Darcy told the meeting the names of some of the roads in a bad condition in the region. "I feel we are being neglected and forgotten about in North Tipperary," commented Cllr Hannigan. "It was a backward step when we were joined with Offaly in the constituency for the 2016 General Election. We should never have been joined with Offaly. It has been bad for us. It is also obvious to me that the roads in Offaly are, in general, in a better condition than the roads in Lower Ormond. Someone, somwhere is letting the ball fall." He listed several villages in Lower Ormond which have seen a marked decrease in services, with a decrease in the number of shops, pubs, garda stations, post offices, etc.

  Cllr Seamus Morris pointed out that €600 million from motor tax went into Irish Water in 2015 and 2016. This money, he argued should have been directed instead into the country's regional and local roads. He said it is also proposed to spend €1.2 billion on creating a water pipe from Lough Derg to Dublin. This will be a misdirection of money, he felt.

  "The roads of rural road," he said, "are at emergency levels of destruction. My job is a rural postman and I am very conscious of this problem. It is dangerous to drive on many of the roads in their current condition.

  "Last year, following significant storm damage we could have applied to the EU for storm damage funding but we didn't do so. Unfortunately the thinking of some civil servants and some politicians seems to be that Dublin is Ireland. It's a bit like the Dublin Pale. Once you get to the Red Cow the subsidies stop. Part of the problem is that we are up against a wrong-headed ideology, a Dublin-centric ideology. I feel that it's wrong to charge people for NCT tests and charge them motor tax while our roads are in such a bad condition."

  Cllr Ger Darcy said he has been a councillor since 1991 and the only time the local and regional roads reached an OK standard was during the Celtic Tiger years. "Part of the Council's problem is that it lets its temporary outdoor staff go during the winter months. It shouldn't. There is also too much water on our roads, which causes damage. I was glad to see recently that Minister Boxer Moran said there will be a road drainage fund given to Councils, the first time we have had this particular fund. We will avail of this and it will help a bit. It will reduce the amount of water lying on our roads. We are getting 20 per cent more funding this year for our regional and local roads. It is better but it is not enough."

  Cllr Darcy said that since November he has received three or four phone calls nearly every day from people who are concerned about the condition of the roads.

  A member of the audience said he works for the IFA and he has driven hundreds of thousands of miles in his job. "From about 2002 to 2011 you would rarely meet a bad pothole. Now you often can't go faster on the local roads than 35 miles an hour because if you did you could damage your car. 

  "I think we should move away from the Council model for repairing our regional roads. We should hire private contractors to repair the roads. I think this will result in a more satisfactory situation." The councillors told him that in the past in the county some of the road repair work carried out by private contractors hadn't been satisfactory. 

  Another person said patching is a waste of time and money.

  Another attendee said her road is "littered with potholes."

  One person said Roran Road in Terryglass is "a disgrace" and is in a "deplorable condition." She said it's obvious that everyone now knows how bad Roran Road is and are deliberately avoid it. "I have noticed over the last couple of months that when walking my dog on Roran Road I don't have to step in off the road anymore to allow traffic pass. This is because people are not using it anymore. What I want to know is why are we paying our tax when it is not going into repairing our roads?"

  Another attendee said they should form an action committee and plan a series of actions to disrupt things with the aim of making people sit up and take notice. "They won't notice us unless we take dramatic action. Therefore, blocking Roran Road was a good idea because it got national coverage. We need to block more roads. We need to protest at the Council offices. We need to do what we can to make them sit up and take notice of us. It is time for people to stand up. Rural Ireland has been nearly forgotten."

  An action committee was set up during the meeting. The meeting said it's ready for months of action and to remain committed to the cause until the situation changes.

  "Rural Ireland is dying," said one person. "This is an emergency situation. The lack of broadband is another big issue. We are not going away. We have started a revolt against the situation."

  Patrick Hogan promised that the new action committee "will protest for change, we will protest against the way things are. We are committed to this for the long term. We know what the power of the people can achieve. We saw what it did with the water charges."


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