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Government accused of "cloak and dagger tactics" on Roscommon boundary changes

Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy accused the Government of “cloak and dagger tactics” on the issue.

MINISTER SIMON COVENEY has been urged to publish a report which reviewed the boundary between Co Westmeath and Co Roscommon.

Roscommon-Westmeath boundary The proposed boundary change would see Monksland, Cushla and Barrybeg become part of Westmeath Source: Google Maps

Proposals to transfer 30 square kilometres of land from Roscommon to Westmeath angered locals earlier this year.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Eugene Murphy, Coveney confirmed that the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government has received the report from the Athlone Boundary Committee.

However, he added that this is the “first of four reports to be provided” by independent committees on the subject of local authority boundaries in Athlone, Carlow, Drogheda and Waterford, and said that he would publish all of the reports “together if possible”.

The Athlone Boundary Committee was established in June 2015 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 report, originally due back in March, was set to suggest if these areas should become part of Westmeath. This boundary change would see Roscommon lose 10% of its 2011 population.

Murphy, who is TD for Roscommon-Galway, accused the Government of “cloak and dagger” tactics on the issue, and of “misleading the public” on the issue. He said:

I am calling on the Minister to publish this important report that he has in in his possession now… The time for clarity on the situation is long overdue and we need to ensure that no boundary change is forced upon us.

He added that he has not met one resident in these Roscommon areas “that is willing to suddenly become part of Co Westmeath.”

Local opposition

Since the report was commissioned in 2015, locals in Roscommon have lined up to criticise proposed plans to change the county boundaries.

In January, Chairman of Roscommon GAA Seamus Sweeney said that, as a “proud Roscommon and west of Ireland man”, the county needed to be protected.

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

Also speaking in January, Ger Aherne, spokesperson for the Save Roscommon campaign, said: “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.”

He added that the proposals were “outdated” and “unacceptable”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government told TheJournal.ie that the report was submitted by the Athlone Boundary Committee on Thursday 17 November.

The spokesperson reiterated the Minister’s position that the reviews of boundaries at Athlone, Carlow, Drogheda and Waterford would be published together, if possible.

The Department said that there was currently no expected date when all of these reports would be received.

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

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Sean Murray

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