Over 5,000 marchers at a rally in Tipperary town last October
The March4Tipp action group has vowed to continue with its protest campaign, after having met with a government appointed task force to deal with Tipperary town’s problems.
The group previously organised rallies that attracted thousands of supporters, and had planned a disruption of the town to further highlight Tipperary's plight as an unemployment blackspot.
However, this protest was delayed while March4Tipp met with Alison Harvey, the newly-appointed independent chair of a rejuvenation process for Tipperary town.
On Monday evening, March4Tipp spokesperson Padraig Culbert said they will now press on with protests, to “continue to press for government-level decisions regarding substantial new employment in Tipperary town and a bypass for the town.”
March4Tipp is holding out against a proposal that Tipperary County Council should manage the rejuvenation planning and implementation process and demanded that a task force be set up.
“The group has previously deferred protest action to permit the government to establish a task force with an independent lead,” said Mr Culbert. “We welcomed the appointment of Ms Harvey but wanted to be sure that the process she will lead has sufficient scope to include such serious problems as unemployment, social deprivation and a bypass of the town.”
The group had also said that it wants to see the new process being “target-driven”, especially in the area of driving down unemployment levels in the town and wider area.
Following the meeting with Ms Harvey, March4Tipp feels that the process she will lead should yield some very positive and much-needed outcomes for the town.
However, they are not convinced that the process can yield what they say are “the “more serious outcomes that are necessary to restore the town economically”.
Denis Mulhair, a member of March4Tipp said “The Alison Harvey process will certainly be good for the town. However, it is not the task force that was demanded in the marches. A task force has the active involvement of State Agencies that can actually make decisions about things like setting up factories and approving new roads infrastructure. The process that has been described to us does not bring those agencies to the table”.
“Our town needs around 500 jobs just to bring it up to par with the other towns in which Alison Harvey has done such valuable work. We are way behind those towns and none of those towns has a national main road running through the middle of it. We need serious Government decisions and we feel that if we engage in a process that will not result in those decisions, then we are leaving the unemployed behind and we won’t do that” he said.
Another March4Tipp member, Katherina Ryan, said that a concern would be that the Government could “tick a box” by saying it had set up a task force for the town, when it is not really a task force at all. “We feel we would be letting down the vast majority of the community who marched in the two massive marches, if we settle for something that will not solve the biggest issues confronting the town.
"We need the Government to solve issues like unemployment and a bypass by making the necessary decisions. Those decisions don’t require local committees or working groups. These are self-evident problems with clear solutions that require Government action. Either the Government wants to solve them or it doesn’t. There is no escaping that” she said. “We wish the Alison Harvey process every success and welcome this initiative, but we have a different job to do, and we are determined to do it”, she added.