Carrick-on-Suirâ€™s two county councillors have declared they are vehemently opposed to a District Council plan to start charging people attending Mass in St Nicholas Church on weekdays for parking in the William Street Car Park.
Cllr Kieran Bourke (Ind) and Cllr David Dunne (SF) have condemned the proposal and vowed to campaign on the Council to stop this measure going through.
Itâ€™s understood Carrick Municipal District Council management informed members of St Nicholas Parish Finance Committee last Friday of the Councilâ€™s intention to end free parking for motorists attending Mass at the church between Monday and Friday. It plans to start charging Mass goers for parking on weekdays in May but will continue observing the free parking arrangement for Sunday Masses.
People have been able to park at the William Street Car Park for free while attending Mass at St Nicholas Church since the car park opened 15 years ago.
The car park site was originally part of the old Presentation Convent grounds, which the Presentation Sisters sold to St Nicholas Parish.
The Parish in turn leased the site to the local council and it was developed into a municipal car park. Part of the lease agreement was that parking fees wouldnâ€™t apply to people attending Masses at St Nicholas Church but the Council has now re-examined the agreement and found that it actually allows the local authority to charge people attending Masses at the church on weekdays for parking.
Cllr Kieran Bourke (Ind), the building contractor who built the William Street Car Park, said he was totally opposed to the Councilâ€™s plan and will raise the issue at the Councilâ€™s monthly meeting on Thursday, April 23.
â€œI think this plan is wrong and I take great exeption to it,â€ he said. We always had an understanding on the former Town Council that people going to Mass and attending funerals in St Nicholas Church could park in this particular car park for free.
â€œUnder this proposal, they will become the only Mass goers in the Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District to be charged for parking while attending religious ceremonies. I have a serious problem with that.â€ He said he took exception to the fact that he, as a public representative, wasnâ€™t informed by Council management of this proposal before hearing about it in the community.
Cllr David Dunne said he would also speak out against the proposal at next weekâ€™s Council meeting. He described the Councilâ€™s plan as totally unacceptable â€œpenny pinchingâ€ that will hit mostly vulnerable elderly people, who attend daily Masses at the church.
The Nationalist contacted Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District Council for comment but a spokesperson was unavailable before the paper went to press yesterday (Tuesday).