Councillors calls for fence blocking towpath to be removed

Complaints were raised at the latest meeting of Carrick-on-Suir Town Council about a fence across part of the old towpath along the River Suir's bank at Carrickbeg.

Complaints were raised at the latest meeting of Carrick-on-Suir Town Council about a fence across part of the old towpath along the River Suir's bank at Carrickbeg.

Council management was called upon to get the 2m section of fence extending from private property across the towpath to the old navigation wall removed.

The fence, built a number of years ago, cuts off access to the towpath for fishermen and other local walkers, councillors complained.

Fine Gael Cllr Margaret Croke tabled a motion calling on the Council to investigate the ownership of the tidal lands at Carrickbeg at the nagivation area, secure public ownership and remove the obstruction along the bank.

Fianna Fail Cllr Kieran Bourke said they were just looking for 2m of fencing crossing the towpath to be removed. He claimed it posed a health and safety risk. "God forbid if there was an accident and nobody could get access on to the towpath. They would have to go into the water to get back onto the towpath again."

He suggested the Town Council should contact the landowner and reach a compromise with him and get him to take down this part of the fence.

Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Walsh said the problem should be sorted out once and for all. That area had been used as a right of way for 200 to 300 years by the people of Carrick-on-Suir ranging from fishermen to people going up and down to the gravel pit.

Town Clerk Michael O'Brien said the legal advice the Council received four years ago was that there was no right of way along the towpath and he would issue the legal opinion to councillors again. It was a very complex matter and there were disputes over ownership of the land there, he explained.

He pointed out that the Council couldn't discuss any specific planning cases but stressed the Council had shown in the past how it aggressively pursued people responsible for unauthorised developments. If there was an unauthorised development, the Council will investigate it, he pledged.

Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan said whatever the Council's legal advice was about the right of way, it couldn't dispute the fact that a section of a Special Area of Conservation had been built on, which was not supposed to happen.

She asked Council management whether this case was an "enforcement issue" for the planning department, Mr O'Brien said he took Cllr Cooney'Sheehan's point but reiterated he was not going to discuss any individual planning issue at a Council meeting as he was precluded from doing so.

Town Engineer Eoin Powell said he had approached the property owner, who erected the fence, and asked him to take it down.

Meanwhile, it was decided at the meeting, on the suggestion of Cllr Cooney-Sheehan, that the Council would investigate the possibility of designating the navigation wall as a protected structure.

Councillors gave the Town Clerk the go ahead to seek advice from the planning department and heritage officer and get a planning report on the wall drawn up.

Cllr Walsh said the navigation wall had been damaged and he feared it would collapse if it was allowed to remain in this condition.