Walkers in rural Limerick are not safe on our roads, say councillors

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

Ballingarry: after a fatal hit and run incident, local politicians are calling for better safety measures for those walking on rural roads

Ballingarry: after a fatal hit and run incident, local politicians are calling for better safety measures for those walking on rural roads

THE RECENT hit and run incident in Ballingarry, which resulted in the death of an elderly man, has led to increased calls for better pedestrian safety measures across rural Limerick.

Footpaths, in particular, were highlighted as being much-needed in many parts of the west.

In one case, negotiations with a landowner in Kildimo had been ongoing for nearly two years with a view to purchasing a short stretch, from the village to the Beer Garden pub, for a footpath. At this week’s local area meeting of Adare-Rathkeale councillors, the local authority communicated that there was no budget for such a purchase.

FG Cllr Stephen Keary said he was shocked at the response.

“There was no problem giving an interest-free loan to the GAA for €150,000,” he said. “I am shocked - for the sake of saving the lives of taxpayers, that a measly few pound could not be found for this.”

The councillor was referring to the “refundable loan” which Limerick GAA received from the council to stage a major concert at the Gaelic Grounds.

Ind Cllr Emmett O’Brien said that the correspondence was “the most insulting response I’ve  ever gotten to date as a councillor”.

“That we cannot find this small amount for a path the length of this room, from the village to a ratepayer, is beyond belief. And that someone would write that and sign their name to it - it is insulting!”

He also referenced the council’s overall budget of €156m a year.

FF Cllr Kevin Sheahan raised an issue at another section of the N69, outside Askeaton, where there is a walkway which is “completely overgrown” and slippy. “It is beyond a joke - you could cut silage off it at the moment!” he said.

People who walk the Askeaton bypass route are actually walking on the road, he said, because it has become so difficult to walk on the path. Council executive staff said that plans are afoot to surface this path with tarmac.

Turning to Kilcornan, Cllr Stephen Keary criticised plans for traffic calming and footpaths in the village because they will not extend as far as the church, which is also on the main N69.

Schoolchildren and the elderly have to walk to the church on the main road with no path, he said.

Cllr Sheahan said that he attended a funeral in Kilcornan recently which caused him to be “embarrassed” as a councillor.

“If you weren’t a councillor, you would say ‘this place needs a good councillor’,” he said.

It is “shameful that the powers that be can’t fund the stretch up to the church”.

FG Cllr Adam Teskey called for a pedestrian footbridge to be built alongside the Christopher Lynch bridge in Rathkeale. He said that the current bridge is too narrow and poses a threat to walkers who use it.

In Ballingarry, local pedestrian Danny Brosnan was killed in a hit and run incident in early September. Local Cllr Richard O’Donoghue said that “submissions have gone in over the years” for traffic calming, but no funding had ever been allocated.

“If speed ramps were put in, a life could have been saved,” he said.

“I met with a group of 20 members of the community in Ballingarry, they are very concerned about the traffic. We have to protect our elderly and our children. They have to come off the footpath to get to school. We need to apply for special funding, for the safety of our communities. The same goes for Kildimo and every area where this is happening,” he said.

Local FF TD Niall Collins also called for a safety audit to be carried out in Ballingarry in the wake of the fatal incident.