Cllr Tony Ward

"Absolutely no safety measures" put in place on local N61

The transport body which oversees safety issues on the busy N61 road between Athlone and Roscommon was subjected to trenchant criticism by members of the Athlone Municipal District of Roscommon County Council at its May monthly meeting.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) was accused of putting “absolutely no safety measures” in place on the busy stretch of roadway that links Athlone and Roscommon despite the fact that members have repeatedly raised safety concerns both in face to face meetings with the body and by way of representations.

“Any meeting we had with them came to nothing, zero, they have done absolutely nothing,” declared Cllr Tony Ward, after the meeting had been told that TII had turned down a request to travel to Roscommon to hold a face to face meeting with members of the Municipal District.

Instead, elected representatives will travel to Dublin for a meeting with officials from TII, which Cllr John Naughten saying it would be very important that “some significant progress” would be made on the N61 at that meeting.

The call for meetings with TII over the N61 emerged in the wake of news in recent months that plans for a new 14-kilometre stretch of the N61 have been taken off the table for the foreseeable future by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).

The €80m development, known as the 'N61 Ballymurray to Knockcroghery' project, had been going through pre-planning stages for the last five years.

“It is very disappointing that TII are refusing to come down to meet with us,” said Cllr Naughten, a view which was also echoed by Cllr Tony Ward. “After our last meeting with them, little or no work was undertaken, so I think it would be very important that there is some significant progress after next week’s meeting,” said Cllr Naughten, who said he would travel to Dublin to meet with TII “but reluctantly.”

Cllr Laurence Fallon said it was an accepted fact that TII “have no desire” to change the speed limits on the N61, while Cllr John Keogh said he had “very strong views” on how the TII “conduct their business” and about their attitude to elected representatives.

“I want to put this meeting on notice that I will be raising this issue with them at our meeting” he said, adding that he also wanted to know who the council members would be meeting. “I want to meet with people who have the power to make decisions,” he pointed out.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland was also criticised at the May monthly meeting of Roscommon County Counci, when members heard that TII would not travel to meet with the six elected members from the Athlone Municipal District for a meeting on the N61.

“There is something seriously wrong when a formal request is sent from Roscommon County Council to the TII to meet with the six elected members of Athlone Municipal District and they are telling us to please go away,” said Cllr Donal Kilduff.

“I could use more colourful language to describe their attitude, though I won’t, but I am outraged by the fact the unelected officials who are paid to do a job won’t even come to meet with us, and we are placed on the back foot by having to go to meet them on their own patch,” said Cllr Kilduff.

“There are 64,000 people in Roscommon and we are the elected body to represent them, and TII think it is inconvenient to come down here to meet us,” said Cllr John Keogh, who described their behaviour as “utterly contemptuous.”

Director of Services with Roscommon County Council, Shane Tiernan, said he would like to put it on the record that the council has a “very strong working relationship” with TII and is “very favourably disposed” towards the body and the assistance it provides, both financially and practically, on various schemes such as roads projects and greenways.

He pointed out that TII is a non-statutory body and, as such, it is “not obligated” to meet with the elected representatives of the council. However, he pointed out that TII was prepared to facilitate a meeting with the six councillors from the Athlone Municipal District in Dublin next week.

An agenda for the meeting, which is set to be dominated by safety concerns on the N61, was subsequently compiled at the Municipal District meeting, and all six members of the Athlone District agreed to attend, along with members of the Executive of Roscommon County Council.