RESIDENTS IN SOUTH-WEST Tipperary have registered their disgust at the state of the local town’s roads.
Locals in Tipperary Town have drawn attention to the town’s plight via a duplicated letter to the local authority, decrying the condition of the town’s roads and pathways.
“We have listened to broken promises one after another and now the day has come where our roads are worse than that of a third world country,” the message reads.
It looks like the people of Tipperary Town and the hinterland surrounding it have been completely forgotten about. Our roads have been in a treacherous condition for many years now and are only getting worse.
Residents Josephine Carroll and Martin Quinn told TheJournal.ie that, while problems with road surfaces can be seen in many rural townships around Ireland, Tipperary Town appears to be even worse.
“It’s localised to Tipperary and its hinterlands,” says Carroll.
You travel to Cahir or Clonmel in the county and you’ll see the difference. I drive a lot for work – I’ve seen the difference. Personally I think it’s because there’s no local TD for the town. There’s no-one fighting for the town. I don’t think you’d see roads like this up where Alan Kelly’s (Labour TD for Tipperary) based. Or if you go to Killarney with the Healy Raes – the roads are perfection. If you head out of the county, you see the difference when you hit Bansha on the way back.
Tipperary has a population of just under 5,000. While it shares a name with the county, the town itself is relatively small, and operates without a bypass, meaning that the main N24 Limerick-Waterford road runs directly through the heart of it, which sees a colossal 10,000 vehicles traverse the main street each day.
“Nothing has been done”
“Nothing has been done for years,” says Quinn. “Oh there’s some resurfacing, piecemeal jobs, filling potholes, but it’s not enough. I suppose funding is the big issue, the main road is supposed to get done but I don’t know when that’s going to come about. There’s no bypass through the town, so you’ve all the traffic from Limerick to Waterford coming through, trucks, lorries, all that comes with it.”
TheJournal.ie touched base with local representatives concerning the ongoing issue with the town’s roads (requests for comment from Tipperary County Council and the Department of Transport had not been answered at the time of publication). Some good news appears to be in the offing – however it’s news that has been well-flagged, and doesn’t go far enough according to the residents.
Local independent councillor Denis Leahy said that the N24 through Tipperary Town is a “unique road”. “I haven’t seen worse in an awful long time. We have so many heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) coming through each day and ripping the roads asunder.”
He said that following a personal plea to Transport Minister Shane Ross €2 million has been allocated to completely resurface the main street, with work due to begin in April.
That doesn’t go far enough, says Carroll.
“We’ve been filled with promises, and now they say there’s only enough money there to cover the main road. But there are lots of areas in and around the town that need fixing – and pothole filling isn’t enough. It really makes sense to do everything properly once and for all, rather than just fortifying. You’d save more money in the long run,” she says.
Local Fine Gael councillor John Crosse lays the problems of Tipperary Town firmly at the door of the Irish weather.
“The weather has been unprecedented for the last number of months,” he said.
We’re 24/7 trying to keep water off the roads, then shortly after a pothole is mended it will reappear. There is investment, but obviously more is needed.
So what causes these kinds of problems in Ireland’s rural towns?
“There’s about 96,000 kilometres worth of roadway on mainland Ireland,” says the AA’s Conor Faughnan.
Maybe 7,000 of those are what you’d call main roads or motorways. That leaves a huge network of roadways that are never properly maintained.
Faughnan says the issue tends to be seen in the larger counties with huge tracts of road covering a smaller population.
“The last time we looked at this heavily, which was a few years ago, you’d have Kerry, Mayo, the larger counties popping up. Wexford was one surprising anomaly,” he says.
“The local authorities have pleaded poverty by and large,” he suggests, adding that such a take is “slightly tenable”.
Well we had two very severe winters in 2010 and 2011 which played havoc with the roads network. It was the time of the recession and the exchequer didn’t have the funds to rectify the problem. There was substantial damage done and fixing it has been incremental.
Faughnan says that there is a direct correlation between breakdown data recorded around the country and ‘pothole blackspots’. “That leads to ‘one-eyed monsters’, something we’ve been working on, cars with one light killed by poor roads.”
But generally speaking local authorities have neglected the housekeeping – footpaths, roads. It really strikes you when you travel abroad, the difference between there and here.
The letter written to Tipperary County Council lets the authority know in no uncertain terms who the writers believe will be responsible for financial repairs to cars laid low by the standard of the town’s roads.
“We pay road tax the same as anyone else so why are ours the worst in the country?”
“It’s not just the weather. I took a picture of one road area in the town two years ago. Two years later it’s untouched,” says Carroll.
But there’s a bigger problem with this – it’s dreadful for the town. It’s very difficult to promote the place when people are actively avoiding it. People would rather go to Cashel or Cahir, it’s not enticing to people or visitors.
Businesses are closing. We share the name of the county, but it’s just such a bad advert for the whole place.
“We have people that are elderly and infirm who won’t come into town because of the roads, people with conditions of physical pain and they actually can’t come into town because the journey in is horrible. It’s become extremely difficult for wheelchair users and others with limited mobility to negotiate their way around the town with the pedestrian crossings and footpaths in the state they’re in – in some cases individuals have struggled to access amenities and facilities, and they’ve reported it to the Irish Wheelchair Association,” she says.
We lobbied every member of the local council, all the TDs and we got one reply (from Martin Browne, a Sinn Féin councillor).
It’s all patchwork fixing and excuse after excuse. The county has the highest unemployment rate in the country as it is. Things need to improve. There has to be a will to change things for the better.
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