Heated debate at Clonmel Borough Council over traffic barriers

Council row

Council row

A councillor’s request to postpone the installation of barriers at Mary Street car park in Clonmel town centre was rejected at this month’s meeting, but not before a heated debate on the issue.

Cllr Niall Dennehy’s motion calling for the delay, to allow for a traffic impact assessment to be done, received a three-page written response from council officials, as well as a reminder that this proposal was accepted and agreed by all councillors last July.

Last month however, a number of traders operating near the car park, launched their opposition to the barriers, saying that they had not been informed of the plans, and that they believed barriers would deter people from parking there. This opinion was not shared by the Borough Council, the Association of Clonmel Traders or the Chamber of Commerce.

Cllr Dennehy said he was not opposed to the barriers, but concerned about where traffic from Gladstone Street will be accommodated. Currently this entrance, adjacent to Ss Peter & Paul’s Church, is used by drivers just to enter the car park and exit onto Mary Street. An automated barrier will be installed at the top of that entrance, as well as at the Mary Street entrance and exit. A vociferous Cllr Dennehy said this Gladstone Street barrier will change drivers’ attitudes. They will no longer use the car park as a quick route to the other side of town, he said. He demanded to see the impact assessment data on traffic from Gladstone Street, through the car park, onto Mary Street. His motion was defeated by eight votes to four. 
Town clerk Ger Walsh said they were addressing a number of concerns, including a proposal to offer a 30 minutes grace period for people collecting schoolchildren, or for delivery drivers. Town engineer Jonathan Cooney said he was fully satisfied with the traffic assessment that had been done.

Cllr Dennehy later apologised to council officials and Cllrs Ryan and Molloy for his behaviour, attributing it to the ‘adrenalin’ of the debate. His apology was accepted.