March4Tipp responds to Co Council plans for Tipperary town
The #March4Tipp action group which organised two recent massive protest marches in Tipperary town has said that detailed planning has been completed for an action scheduled for February 22 next that is aimed at disrupting traffic on the N24.
Termed 'N24 Gridlock', this action was announced at the most recent protest march, which was attended by 2,500 people. The announcement of the decision to disrupt N24 traffic, which runs through the centre of the town, received a rousing reaction from those in attendance on the day.
The aim is to call attention to the serious needs of Tipperary town that it says are not being satisfactorily addressed by local or national governments.
March4Tipp previously deferred the N24 disruption on the basis of commitments made in the Dáil by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar in December. However, it is now concerned at a proposal that Tipperary County Council would be solely responsible for developing and delivering the plan to rejuvenate the town. As a result, the group has now decided to go ahead with the N24 disruption action.
March4Tipp activist Katherina Ryan said: “Tipperary County Council has a dreadful record in Tipperary Town, having foisted a number of negative developments on the town in recent years, without consultation. Nobody wanted the loss of two-way traffic on Kickham place. Nobody wanted the loss of a traffic lane on Bridge Street, but none of that mattered to the Council, and those are only two examples.
"Davitt Street and Church Street are about to be dug up for eight months, largely for work that is completely unnecessary. The Council claimed that traffic calming was necessary because of Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s safety ranking for the road. This claim is entirely false, based on accident statistics provided by the RSA. After that work is complete, Main Street and Fr Matthew Street are then to be dug up for over a year, again largely for unnecessary work.”
“Whenever representations have been made by affected business people or residents, the Council has carried on without regard to what was said to them. And we are now to believe that the Council is going to become this genuinely consultative organisation, open to the views of everyone and willing to shape plans accordingly? It would be naive in the extreme to believe that Tipperary County Council can turn around and suddenly become the saviour of the town it has only seen as a source of rates and as an engineer’s playground for so long”.
Padraig Culbert, another March4Tipp activist said: “when we heard of the Taoiseach’s comments in the Dáil, we were hopeful and as a gesture of good faith, we deferred further protest action. We wrote to the CEO of the Council, Joe McGrath on 21 December setting out what we thought were key considerations for a proper plan for the town.
"At the time of writing, Mr MacGrath has not replied to us. How can we possibly accept an organisation like the Council taking charge of the future of our town when the CEO won’t even reply to correspondence? Instead of dealing with the issues we raised, he decided to issue a two-page press release that was vague when it came to the key issues. We have zero confidence in Mr MacGrath or his Council to restore Tipperary town. We believe that the only way this will work is if the Task Force process is independently led”.
The disruption action on 22 February will involve people driving cars and other vehicles slowly in both directions through the town. Pedestrian participants will also use the various pedestrian crossings. The group says that they have checked, and both of these activities are entirely legal. They expect that the result of both activities in combination should have the effect of creating massive congestion of the N24, possibly bringing it to a complete halt for a considerable time on that day.
“We feel that we have been backed into a corner. The Council is dictating how the plan for the recovery of the town is going to play out. We say that the Council are exactly the wrong people to lead this. We say that thousands of people did not march so the Council could dictate how things are going to be done. Thousands of people marching was democracy in action, and was aimed at getting the powers that be, especially the Council, to listen. Dictating their version of a solution is just not acceptable. We would be letting down the thousands who marched if we allowed the Council to take sole charge of the future of our town. The Taoiseach’s decision came from pressure raised by the people. We won’t get this chance again and we are not entrusting it to the Council”, Padraig Culbert said.