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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 25 April, 2019
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Kilkenny bridge protest enters fifth week as Arts Festival begins

One activist says she wants Kilkenny to remain a “crowning jewel.”

A GROUP PROTESTING the development of a bridge over the River Nore in Kilkenny have entered their fifth week camping at the proposed construction site.

Meanwhile, the debate around the controversial Central Access Scheme (CAS) becomes increasingly fierce.

Kilkenny bridge proposals Elaine Bradshaw (L) and Margaret O' Brien (R) at the proposed site of the controversial new bridge. Source: Niall Carson/PA

One activist, Margaret O’Brien (pictured on the right above) told TheJournal.ie that the arrival of huge numbers of tourists for the city’s Arts Festival this weekend was giving their campaign a boost, despite claims their visible placards and protest camp would do damage to Kilkenny’s reputation.

We’ve already had visitors going out of their way, from their B&Bs and hotels, and coming down here to show their support for us and sign our petition.
I think this proves what we’ve known for a while – that the medieval character of Kilkenny is a big part of what makes it unique and attractive to tourists.
And for good or for ill, tourism is a big part of our economy.

Kilkenny bridge proposals Work has already begun on the proposed new bridge over the River Nore. Source: Niall Carson/PA

The “Save Kilkenny” campaign has come under increasing criticism in recent days from locals who see the CAS and the construction of the new bridge as part of the city’s economic development, and something which will bring jobs to the area.

Indeed, one firm supporter of the scheme told TheJournal.ie earlier in the week that there was a “silent majority” in favour of it, and that the anti-CAS side had been spreading “misinformation.”

The Central Access Scheme will open up two of the largest unused sites for development. Hopefully this will bring potential jobs to Kilkenny.
Traffic in the north of the city is at gridlock several times a day and the CAS is part of a wider traffic management plan that will address these issues.

90351755 Katrina Butler from the Save Kilkenny campaign, takes a break from protesting. Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall

The economic argument is one that O’Brien and her fellow activists reject:

We could certainly to with more jobs in Kilkenny.
We’re not against development. We are absolutely in favour of it – but development that is local and sustainable and keeps Kilkenny’s unique character.

The construction of the bridge, meanwhile, carries on.

It was the subject of a controversially deferred vote in Kilkenny County Council, but an unspecified legal avenue currently being pursued by the “Save Kilkenny” group means Margaret O’ Brien and her comrades may not be here in another five weeks’ time.

But then again…

Read: Man to spend second day on raft protesting against Kilkenny bridge>

‘Phil Hogans’ hold protest against controversial Kilkenny bridge

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Dan MacGuill

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