Cllr Michael Fitzgerald
The Cathaoirleach of Tipperary Cashel Municipal District has defended the record of the local authority at this month’s meeting, while stressing that Tipperary town is a priority for the Council and elected representatives.
March4Tipp organiser Padraig Culbert criticised Co. Council CEO Joe McGrath’s record in Tipperary and local engineers at Saturday’s rally (see story left). Cathaoirleach Michael Fitzgerald congratulated the organisers “on such a huge march of support for the town.”
“I know our Council came in for criticism but we can all work more closely to improve everything. Things were said off the side of a stage that I could not agree with.” The timeline, of two weeks, to let Mr MacGrath respond to organisers' demands, is not “realistic”, said Cllr Fitzgerald. There is a planned visit by Minister Heather Humphreys. “We know we have to work hard to make things happen. I hate to see the decline of the town, like the closure of Wellworths. We are doing our level best to try to encourage and support it.” A “renewed effort” will be made by the Minister, including looking at the Pall and the old Atari factory sites.
Cllr Denis Leahy said Saturday’s protest had been “grumbling for the last 12 months.” The elimination of the Town Councils, the re-unification of County Tipperary, and the equalisation of business rates, have all served to downgrade the status of Tipperary town, and “cause hardship.” The Town Councils had the “weaponry to combat these things,” he said.
“I have no doubt Tipperary will rise again,” said Cllr Leahy. “There are opportunities there. We need employment. I have great faith in the people of Tipperary, in the businesses of Tipperary. We have to look at the idea of a task force.”
Cllr John Crosse said politicians and business people shouldn’t be afraid to make tough decisions, “that may affect one business, but would help 10 to 15 businesses develop.”
Cllr Mary Hannah Hourigan congratulated Padraig Culbert on a peaceful and well organised march, but said CEO Joe MacGrath “got the biggest rap” in Mr Culbert’s speech. Cllr Hourigan criticised the rates system, but said she used to have to pay “four and half thousand in rates” back when there was no painting schemes, and “you had to shovel the street yourself.” Empty pubs during the weeks had to be revived if Tipperary is to be renewed.
Cllr Roger Kennedy said traders and organisers of the march were very critical of the Council. “It’s easy to criticise if you don’t sit down and see what’s being done. More needs to be done, it’s a slow burner. We cannot take one decision that will change everything for everyone in Tipperary town. We have no magic wand.”
Cllr Kennedy asked “how do we sell Tipperary better” as a destination for investment, and “infrastructure is vital. When you get the infrastructure you get the jobs.” Better connections to Limerick are vital, as “Limerick city is the driving force for the west Tipperary area.”
District Director for Cashel/Tipperary Municipal District Claire Curley said officials are “committed to developing the social, economic, and tourism potential of this town, relentlessly, day in, day out,” while tapping into the County roads team. Chief Executive Joe MacGrath treats Tipperary town “as a priority,” added Ms Curley.