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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

Protest over Kilkenny bridge grows from ‘a dozen to hundreds of people’

This morning gardaí cordoned off the roads to escort machinery into the site.

Updated 9.11am

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A computer generated graphic of the planned bridge.

Source: Kilkenny County Council

A PROTEST OVER a proposed bridge in Kilkenny has grown from ‘twenty individuals to over hundreds’ in recent weeks, those on site have said.

And they will be taking the protest to the council’s office on Monday to voice their concerns over the development.

The protesters are objecting to the construction of the bridge as it would more traffic, including more trucks, to the centre of the medieval city

Instead, there are calls for the funding allotted for the project to be used to finish a ring road, which could alleviate any traffic issues.

The dispute stretches as far back as the 1970s, local Green Party councillor Malcolm Noonan explained.

“There are concerns around the visual impact of the bridge,” he told TheJournal.ie, “and on the city’s heritage. Some people view it as preparation for larger developments”.

He criticised the council for failing to engage with the concerns of the public, and said that funding issues have been cited for a delay in completion of the ring road.

“Finish the ring road, and then see if we need the bridge,” Byrne added.

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Source: Kilkenny County Council

Protesters have been on site three weeks now.

Last week, they prevented a truck carrying pile-driving equipment from accessing the site, prompting more local residents to join their cause.

“The protesters at the site here are not a group… a number of people decided that they were fed up being ignored by the councillors and the executive on this issue,” protester Margaret O’Brien said.

She said it began with twenty people, and claimed there are now “several hundred” different people visiting the site to express their support, some even with debilitating illnesses or in wheelchairs.

O’Brien added one hoped for is a deferral of the project “to give everyone a moment to sit back and talk about it”.

Garda involvement

In the early hours of this morning, gardaí cordoned off the streets in Kilkenny to escort machinery onto the site. Just two protesters were at the gate at the time and it is understood as many as 30 gardaí attended.

There was no disruption and neither of the protesters were arrested but Helen Murray, who has been involved in the protest, said this morning that she believed this response was “very heavyhanded”.

“We just want somebody to listen to us, we don’t want any aggravation”, she said.

- Additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

First published 6.30am

Read: You can walk or cycle over the Rosie Hackett Bridge from tomorrow >

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