Cllr Mary Hanna Hourigan
A member of Tipperary County Council has told colleagues at the February monthly meeting of the council that she has been forced to go to the local graveyard in Cappawhite, in order to get a decent mobile phone reception in the village.
Fine Gael Councillor Mary Hanna Hourigan was contributing to a debate on the many many mobile phone and broadband blackspots across County Tipperary, when she shocked members by telling them that she is forced to get into her car and drive down to the graveyard with her mobile phone and diary, in order to get council business done.
“It's the only place where there is decent reception in the village and I regularly drive down there with my diary if I have to get work done. It is an absolutely crazy situation, but that's the reality,” Cllr Hanna Hourigan said at the meeting in Clonmel this week.
Cllr Hanna Hourigan revealed that her landline bill for one month amounted to more than €130 as a result of having to use this as opposed to using her mobile phone.
During the course of the discussion on the mobile phone reception quality in Tipperary, Councillor Roger Kennedy (FF) proposed that mobile phone providers be invited to a meeting of the council so that coverage can be discussed in full. And he claimed that poor reception leads to rural isolation throughout the county with people unable to stay connected.
This was a theme of the meeting with rural isolation being to the forefront of discussions in relation to the closure of post offices, pubs and shops. Cllr Kennedy offered the view that some kind of rural bus/taxi link would have to be established in order to keep communities alive.
“We need to have a system in place where a number of villages can be served by some transport system, especially in the evening time. It's going to require some innovative thinking and maybe a change to legislation as well. But, something will have to be done and we should be to the forefront in trying to bring in change. Otherwise, our villages and rural atreas will die completely,” Cllr Kennedy said.
A call from Thurles based Independent councillor David Doran to have taxi legislation amended so that there can be more availability in rural towns and villages was also made, with Cllr Doran stating that it is very difficult to get a taxi late at night throughout the region, but especially in Thurles.
“The lack of availability of taxi's is definitely affecting business in our rural towns and villages. People are avoiding our towns because they know that they will find it very hard to get a taxi after a night out. They are trying to do the right thing by getting a lift in for their night out, and then getting a taxi home, rather than driving. But, they are running into an impossible situation when it comes to getting a taxi home. This in turn is leading to anti social behaviour on our streets because people are left hanging around and this causes problems.
“I have spoken to the Gardai and they would be delighted to see more taxi's available at night time because they understand that people would be brought home much quicker and without any fuss. This is something that really needs to be looked at and I am again calling on our local authority to play a part - I believe we have a big role to play in this,” he said.
Director of Services Mr Pat Slattery informed members that the issue of taxi's and availability of same will be discussed in full at the next transport Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) and the outcome of the discussion will be brought before the full meeting of the council in due course. The council, he said, has no direct function in the regulation of taxi's, but the SPC would discuss and debate it nonetheless.