Saturday, April 22, 2006


German road signs....

I returned refreshed from spending the Easter weekend driving around Germany. Although the weather was dull, it was a very welcome break. I was also very impressed about how easy it was to navigate around the country, especially since my German only stretches to a few sentences.

Wednesday saw the five East Meath councillors meet for the monthly area meeting. I was particularly annoyed about the lack of action on schemes to improve Donore village, and referred to a few examples of how the council was inactive. Because of my driving experience of German road signs a few days previously, one example I used was the failure to implement the recommendations of a signage study to Newgrange, and the fact that a local estate, St Mary’s Villas, was suffering because one sign virtually directed people into their estate. A local resident OM, had told me that coach loads of German tourists had ended up in the estate and asked me to do something about it about 18 months ago.

Every month for about six months she reminded me about the problem. Every time I’d ask the engineer to do something, but I always got the reply that “we’ll have to wait for the signage study to be completed.” Eventually, OM got fed up and stopped asking me about the sign. Every time I meet OM now we have a very courteous conversation, but both of us know that I haven’t managed to get the offending sign relocated. So, on Wednesday I demanded to know why nothing had been done about it.

The road sign to Newgrange, pointing into St Mary's Villas, Donore

In the public gallery at the meeting was a national journalist with a whiff for a story and next thing she had the article printed in The Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, the Irish Independent, the Star, the Sun and the Mail. On the back of it I did a piece for LMFM, the RTE lunchtime news and the BBC Friday evening Drivetime show. It kind of took over my Friday, but one million people found out about this issue and now hopefully the end result is that something will be done about it.

This week also saw the anti-litter award presentation for County Meath. It was held in the Newgrange Hotel, Navan. I was attending a Meath Leader meeting in the same hotel so it meant that I was able to get to both events. There were hundreds of citizens there, each of them actively involved in making their villages and estates nicer places to live in. The council put on a very good evening including a sit down dinner for all attendees. I thought it was a great way of showing these local residents how much their work is appreciated; if everyone in the county was to give just a little of their time to community-based activities then Meath would reap the benefits.

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