A massive protest march has been organised to take place in Tipperary Town on Saturday 20th of October.
Organisers of the march say that the community feels that it has no alternative as the town has suffered decades of neglect by various levels of government.
Katherina Ryan, a member of the #march4tipp group that is organising the event, says that is has been 22 years since the IDA brought a job to Tipperary Town. “The level of unemployment in the town is at multiples of the national level,” said Ms Ryan.
There are a number of issues involved in the campaign, ranging from unemployment, lack of funding for local facilities, lack of supports for the retail sector, the government’s refusal to grant DEIS status to local schools, to dereliction of key heritage buildings. The group is also campaigning against Council plans to remove resident’s parking spaces in Davitt Street, as well as its plans to dig up the Main Street for up to one year.
“It really is a case of the Council not listening to us. When we look for something, they don’t listen. When they decide to carry out works and we object, they don’t listen either” said group member Mary Margaret Ryan.
A large number of school students are expected to march, particularly as the Government has refused to grant DEIS status to local schools.
Group member Annemarie Ryan said “800 schools nationally have DEIS status and no school in Tipperary Town has it. DEIS status would mean a big difference to the educational outcomes for children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, but the Government just refused to grant it, even though they said that the schools qualify for it”.
Denis Mulhair, who trades as a Jeweller on Davis Street in the town said “there are 21 closed shops along Main Street alone. When anyone wants to start up a business, the Council looks for rates up front and if you want to do any improvements to a premises, they demand development charges. If they genuinely wanted to help the retail sector to recover, they should be encouraging people to set up in business, not taxing them to the hilt by way of rates and charges”. “Requiring people to pay for parking is also driving customers away” he said.
Commenting on the huge upwelling of community interest in the march, Breda White said, “when we started the #march4tipp group, we had no idea that it would spark so much support. Clearly, the community has been waiting for a chance to voice long-held concernsabout the neglect of the town by the powers that be. From what we have been told, we are expecting at least 1,000 people to march on the day. This has really struck a chord with people, and people have just had enough of the neglect of our great town”.
Lisa McGrath, who is involved with youth services locally said “at the moment when young people finish their education, there is nothing for them here in the Town. A lot of them leave to take up employment elsewhere. This is a huge loss to the town.
One of the things we are campaigning for is an inter-agency task force that can tackle the massive long-term unemployment in the Town, so that when those who are children now are finished their education, they at least have a choice of working and having a career locally”.
The march takes place on 20 October and starts at 2pm. The march will commence at the Canon Hayes Recreation Centre and will proceed along Bank Place, Main Street, Church Street and finish at “the Plan” on Davitt Street.
Due to the very large crowds expected, people are asked not to drive into the Recreation Centre and to walk to the start of the march. People who may have mobility problems are asked to gather opposite the Irish House on Main Street.