Troubled Waters

'Phil Hogans' hold protest against controversial Kilkenny bridge

Protesters are keeping up a 24-hour presence at the construction site of a bridge over the River Nore.


MORE THAN 50 protesters dressed as former Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan took part in a protest in Kilkenny yesterday.

They took to the streets in Kilkenny wearing masks of Hogan’s face in a bid to highlight their concerns over a controversial new road scheme.

Protests have been ongoing over the construction of a bridge over the River Nore, with locals taking to kayaks and rafts on the river, and keeping up a 24-hour presence at the site.

Construction begins

The work is taking place under the Kilkenny Central Access Scheme, known as the CAS.

Although construction had been temporarily suspended the week before last, it resumed last week. Pile driving began even though locals were in the river. The construction was fenced off while work was ongoing.

One protester, Darragh Byrne, told that during yesterday’s stunt the locals donned the Phil Hogan masks to draw attention to a change in Local Government legislation brought in by the former Minister for the Environment in June 2014 just before he left office.

The protesters say the new legislation was tested on the TD’s home ground of Kilkenny last month when it was used during a special sitting of Kilkenny County Council.

The protesters have utilised the #savekilkenny hashtag on Twitter during their campaign and say they have been “misrepresented and smeared as ‘unemployed’ or ‘outsiders’” by some.

They fear the bridge will bring more traffic into the centre of the medieval town.

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Protest to continue during festivals

The protest is set to continue throughout August, with a series of events due to take place during Kilkenny Arts Festival and Heritage Week to draw attention to the new bridge and controversial legislation.

The council is due to hold another meeting in September about the CAS.

Irish rugby legend Willie Duggan has also weighed in on the campaign, saying in a video interview with “Our representatives or our council should pay attention to what the people are telling them.”

All photographs are by Vicky Comerford and Danny Lahart

Read: Work on Kilkenny bridge resumes – while protesters are nearby on river>

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

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