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Claim O'Connor Sq Plan Held Up By 'Influential People'

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Claim O'Connor Sq Plan Held Up By 'Influential People' thumbnailAn car free O'Connor Square photographed early in the morning.

THE debate on the future of O'Connor Square under the Tullamore Town Enhancement scheme is now at an impasse with neither side of the argument prepared to back down.

At last Thursday's Tullamore Municipal District meeting, Cllr Brendan Killeavy claimed the project was being held up by a small number of 'influential people' in the town.

Things got so heated that a frustrated, Cllr Tommy McKeigue told Town Manager, Sean Murray, to leave the square as it is and go back to the Regional Authority, who are part-funding the project, and seek permission to continue work on the rest of the town.

Cllr McKeigue had earlier proposed that a revised plan for O'Connor Square, which would include 26-car parking spaces, be allowed to progress to the Part 8 process and put out for public consultation.

This proposal was seconded by Cllr Brendan Killeavy who said he didn't believe the views of the majority of the people of the town were being represented by councillors.

He said the project was being held up by a small number of business people who wanted 40 car parking spaces in the square.

'Tullamore has a population of 15,000 people,' he said. 'There is a wider group who support all aspects of the plan.'

He said when the Bridge Shopping Centre was first proposed for Tullamore a group of business people objected.

'Imagine Tullamore without a shopping centre,' he added. 'Tullamore will be left behind,' he cautioned and urged councillors to have 'vision'.

Cllr Tommy McKeigue also recalled when the current shopping centre in Cloncollig was proposed, Tullamore Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter supporting the project. 'That shopping centre devastated the town,' he said

'We have a flock mentality. We can't let the town fall apart. Let it ( plan for 26 car parking spaces) go out for public consultation. If the public don't want it, I will accept that,' he said.

Cllr McKeigue then made reference to a 90 space car-park being planned for an area to the rear of the old post office in O'Connor Square, adding that if councillors were worried about car parking spaces then this should alleviate their concerns.

But Cllr Dervill Dolan urged caution, saying, that particular car-park had to go through the planning process and would attract submissions,

However, Cllr McKeigue said he didn't believe permission was needed for up to 40 spaces there, as there was always a car-park behind the post office.

In response, Cllr Dolan said the majority of the councillors had already made their decision regarding O'Connor Square and had voted five to two in favour of going back to the architects seeking a new design that would incorporate 40 car parking spaces.

The Independent councillor said he couldn't understand why councillors McKeigue and Killeavy wouldn't accept that.

'We have had seven proposals in relation to O'Connor Square and not one of them reflected the views of the councillors,' he said.

More argument and counter argument between councillors continued, before an irritated Cllr McKeigue said there was no point taking up one one car park and replacing it with another.

He told the town manager, Sean Murray, to go back to the Regional Authority and ask would it be possible to continue with the rest of the work in the town. 'If that's what they want,' he said.

Mr Murray told the councillors that he did not need their permission to go to the Part 8 process.

In addition he reiterated he would not be going back to the architects to seek a new drawing as it was too expensive.

He challenged the councillors to tell him the square is 'working' as it is.

The discussion ended at that point without any agreement.

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