Up to 5,000 people took to the streets of Tipperary town today to protest against shop closures, dilapidated buildings and roads, high unemployment and under-investment, along with what they see as years of neglect by politicians.
Chanting songs, and carrying placards saying 'Deis is a must for Tipp town primary schools,' #march4tipp banners, and 'greedy rates lock our gates,' there was a palpable sense of frustration at the state of Tipperary town's Main Street, with closed shops and derelict facades highlighted by the recent closure of Wellworths, a retailing institution enjoyed by generations of Tipperary town people.
Organiser Padraig Culbert captured the mood: "We have children here from the primary schools. We have parents, mothers, fathers, grandparents, workers, doctors, solicitors, visitors, drivers, farmers - all different but united by one thing. We're united by this place.
"There are people who presided over the decline of our place, and there are people who have caused it." The failure of the government to provide support for local school children, the lack of opportunity for school graduates, parking charges and business rates, the poor road surfaces and constant digging of the Main Street, along with the increasing rate of shop closures, were all major concerns.
"Some people think our comments are negative," said Mr Culbert. "But I don't see this as negative. This is the most positivity I've seen in this town in a very long time. So the detractors and the people who are happy with the way things are now - this is the new voice of Tipperary."
Mr Culbert pointed to what he referred to as out-of-touch politicians in Dublin, who live in a 'bubble, surrounded by spin doctors.' He also criticised the dilapidated state of the local Courthouse, and the removal of a traffic lane from the Main Street.
A local Doctor wrote to him. "After 30 years working as a GP in this town, I have witnessed first hand the impact the neglect and socio economic deprivation has had on the physical and mental health of the people of Tipp town and surrounding areas, and it has been immeasurable."
Mr Culbert said change had to come or there would be more protests, and took aim at the County Council. "Please stop neglecting our town. Please stop treating our town as if you were revenue collectors and not local government.
"Look at the closed shops, where the last thing the owners heard was a rates demand. Come here and see how people have to travel along roads that look like a battlefield and pay for the privilege of parking on them. Please please stop digging up our town."
Full story in this week's Tipperary Star.