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Could a massive part of Roscommon become a part of Westmeath?

Campaigners say so and they’re against it.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

A GROUP OF campaigners are hitting back at what they call a “land grab” which would move 7,000 people from Roscommon to Westmeath.

Campaigners will hold a meeting on Monday aimed at fighting a plan from the Department of Environment, which they say would redistrict 30 square kilometres from Roscommon to Westmeath.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly last year established a committee to report on a number of boundaries across the country, including one in Athlone, which will decide on the areas of Monksland, Rooskey Cross, Ballymulavill, Bogganfin, and Barrybeg in Roscommon.

The reports, due back in March, are designed to decide whether the areas should be taken from county Roscommon and put into county Westmeath.

It would mean Roscommon loses more than 10% of its 2011 population.

Monksland is the county’s second-fastest growing town.

Locals have lined up to criticise the plan. Chairman of Roscommon GAA Seamus Sweeney says that he is “a proud Roscommon and west of Ireland man” and says the county needs to be protected.

“I have always known that Connacht and Roscommon are west of the Shannon and, as a result, I am perplexed as to why officials in the Department of Environment are trying to take on natural boundaries to move parts of Roscommon across the Shannon to Leinster.”

Spokesperson for the Save Roscommon campaign Ger Aherne said locals were “angry”.

“This area cherry-picked by government to hand over to Westmeath includes Roscommon’s fastest growing town and industrial heartland.

“Monksland and the surrounding area has been created and nurtured by the tax-payers of County Roscommon for years and now, that the benefits are being reaped, the Government wants to steal the fruits of our labour and starve the county and our children of future growth.

“This is outdated, unacceptable and a clear indication that Alan Kelly has no regard for the people of Roscommon or the democratic process.”

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A Department spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that “it is ridiculous to suggest that it is a land grab”.

Announcing the committee last June, Kelly said that the plan would bring boundaries in line with administrative jurisdictions.

“The reviews I have announced are clearly warranted given the significant overspill of population in each of these cases into another county.”

Reports will also be carried out for Carlow, Drogheda and Waterford.

Read: Why did Roscommon-South Leitrim vote No?

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