LIMERICK City and County Council has been accused of trying to “railroad” plans to bring a €150m road through Castletroy, Lisnagry and Annacotty.
Just three months after councillors decisively vetoed plans to build the Northern Distributor Road over the Mountshannon Road, and the Plassey Park Road, another meeting was had on the huge plan.
While the local authority did not confirm the contents of the behind-closed-doors meeting, councillors present have confirmed that local authority management put forward the same route rejected by a margin of 26 votes to three.
“My views have not changed, just like the plans have not changed. Just because we are having another meetng does not mean the councillors will all of a sudden change their minds,” said Sinn Fein’s City East member Séighin Ó Ceallaigh.
Another councillor, who did not wish to be named, said there was “huge discontent” at the meeting, adding: “The council executive and management were trying to say: ‘We didn’t explain the proposal first time around. You might not have understood the technicalities of it. But actually we did, very much. They are trying to railroad this.”
Residents affected by the project argue that if the road is built, it would see the Shannon burst its banks more often. They also point out that if councillors did approve the route, it would sterilise lands making it very hard to get planning permission.
Councillors in City East have said that an alternative route around Killaloe should be looked at, or building a bridge over the National Technology Park, something already ruled out on the basis of the presence of alluvial woodland.
Metropolitan mayor Jerry O’Dea says he will facilitate meetings between residents affected by the route and the local authority.
But, he added: “We don’t want to just pay lip service to their concerns. We want to seriously take their concerns on board. Their voice really needs to be heard.”
Fine Gael councillor Marian Hurley, who was also present at the meeting, added: “They did bring the plans back, and basically we gave them the same feedback as we did at the five-hour meeting (in August).”
Cllr ó Ceallaigh said: “This was just an attempt to get the road through, to get councillors onside. But it did not work.”
Limerick councillors rejected plans for their portion of the route after their colleagues in Co Clare overwhelmingly supported the track through Parteen and Clonlara.
After the Limerick portion was overwhelmingly rejected, there were predictions that the same route would return for approval by councillors.
One member said: “It is a bit like the Lisbon Treaty – we will keep coming back to you until you say yes. Or beatings will continue until morale improves.”
A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said: “Elected members were briefed on the current status of the Limerick element of the Northern Distributor Road. Members were given the opportunity to express their opinions in relation to the project.”