Cllr John Sheahan
SUGGESTIONS that west Limerick would lose out along with Kerry and Cork at the hands of Limerick city over a proposed motorway route were dismissed this week.
A Cork-based councillor suggested vested interests in Limerick city were promoting the building of an M24 to Waterford over an M20 to Cork, which would hurt west Limerick along with Cork and Kerry.
Tensions between Limerick and Cork members of the Southern Regional Assembly escalated this week with one Cork-based councillor claiming there is an agenda by “vested interests” to position Limerick as the country’s second city.
Cllr Michael Collins, a member of the SRA - has spoken of the need for the three Limerick representatives on the Southern Regional Assembly to work together
“From a Limerick perspective we need to be talking (to each other) before each meeting to be seen that we are showing a united front for Limerick – we are batting for Limerick obviously,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cllr Gerard Murphy – a member of the SRA – has clarified comments he made which suggested that Limerick City and County Council was behind a motion which could result in the proposed M20 being replaced by a new motorway between Limerick and Rosslare which will intersect with the current M8.
When contacted by the Limerick Leader this Wednesday, Cllr Murphy, who is based in Newmarket, accepted the motion has, in fact, been tabled by Tipperary County Council.
“It was just a misunderstanding, they (Tipperary County Council) are proposing that the N24 becomes and M24 – we have no problem with upgrading the N24 to any standard they wish provided that the M20 goes ahead first because we want to avoid a situation whereby the southwest of Ireland is totally cut off from a motorway,” he said.
According to a report in the Irish Examiner, Cllr Murphy told colleagues at a meeting in Mallow if the N24 is upgraded first, there would be no need for a direct motorway link between Cork and Limerick as vehicles could travel up the M8 from Cork to Cahir and connect to Limerick that way.
“In my opinion this is an effort by some vested interests in Limerick to have the city become the major (economic) counterbalance to Dublin and thus make Limerick the country's second city,” Cllr Murphy said.
His comments have angered Limerick members of the Southern Regional Authority – Cllr John Sheahan, Cllr Michael Collins and Cllr Frankie Daly.
“The article is very pointed towards west Limerick councillors for some reason but I would like to reassure the people that we are representing them in the full at regional assembly level and nothing has been decided in the relation to the issue of the N24 and the N20 becoming either the M20 or the M24,” said Cllr Sheahan.
The FG councillor added the comments are reflective of what he described as a “Cork versus the rest” attitude in the regional assembly.
Giving an example of the tensions, he cited the decision of Cork-based councillors to support plans to establish a Strategic Development Zone on the Clare side of the UL campus which will pave the way for a the development of new university town.
“Clare councillors wanted it and the Cork councillors blatantly backed Clare on the floor to put in that SDZ against the Limerick councillors and we were quite disappointed on the day,” he said.
Cllr Sheahan says he believes the actions of Cork-based councillors are an attempt to deflect from the way the National Development Plan is weighted towards Cork which has been designated as an international city – a tier above Limerick, Galway and Waterford.