Sunday, January 21, 2007


7-storey apartment block for Ashbourne?

The provision of dog litter bins in Meath, which I mentioned in last Sunday’s blog, attracted a lot of attention this week. It had been on the front page of the Meath Chronicle the previous week, and last Sunday I got a phone call from a national journalist asking me would I pose for a picture. I obliged and had my picture taken on the beach on Sunday afternoon.

After 7am on Monday morning I got a phone call from local station LMFM, wanting to know would I do a slot about the subject on Michael Reade’s Loose Talk show.

Which paper is it in?” I asked Maggie, the show’s producer.

It’s in ALL the papers” she replied. “The Mirror gives you a half a page, The Star has a picture of you and the County Manager, there’s a picture of you in the Independent and you’re in the Mail. Can you come on the show at quarter to ten?”

I jumped out of bed “Yeah, I’ll be there” I replied.

I pulled on some clothes and darted out to the shop, and flicked through the various papers. Sure enough, the majority of the papers had picked up on the story.

In the radio studio Michael quizzed me for about 15 minutes on the subject, and he also moved on to ask me a few questions about what will happen after the election in relation to potential coalition partners.

Directly after the show I had to go on Galway Bay FM, Belfast radio and Brenda Power on Newstalk. Later on I did interviews on Country FM, 106FM and Cork FM. I even got a few mentions from Gerry Ryan on his show.

I was talking to a few of my mates about it afterwards. It was funny. You can spend hours trying to generate some publicity about something like under-funding in Meath, or about hospital waiting lists, and get nowhere. Then a simple issue like trying to get a few extra litter bins blows up into a national story. That’s the media for you!

That afternoon I had my monthly VEC meeting in Navan. It was a very productive meeting and we agreed that our next meeting will be held in Ratoath. We are going to get a tour of the new school there (and hopefully a tour of the new Ratoath Community Centre, which Councillor Nick Killian has promised us).

I dropped along to Gormanston Railways station this week. I had been asked to check out the parking situation by a number of commuters. I was surprised to notice that there were over 40 cars parked along the road verge. The station car park is far too small. It is also in a complete state, with potholes everywhere and muck on the ground. I’d be pretty annoyed if I had just shined my shoes and had to wade through that at half seven on a winter’s morning. Shame on Iarnrod Eireann for doing nothing about it!

Gormonston Car-Park
Iarnrod Eireann could extend the car park at Gormanston by another 100 spaces

It’s clear that there is a huge amount of available ground for extra parking. It would only near some bitumen tar to be put down. Sure there’s also a related issue of the narrow laneway, but I’d say that with a small bit of effort the car park could be brought up to 21st Century conditions. Right now it’s like something out of the 1930s!

I was also contacted by residents of Betaghstown Cross in relation to the amount of muck being generated by builders’ lorries using the local roads. I passed their concerns on to the local engineer and enforcement officers. Builders’ lorries are mean to have their wheels washed before they exit the construction sites and join public roadways.

Betaghstown Cross
Council should force East Meath's builders to clean their vehicles

This month’s Slane Area meeting took place on Wednesday. We had presentations in relation to the Community Grants Scheme and how to fund the Sonairte re-development at Laytown.

I brought up the issue of road conditions and signage problems at Ardcath, Clonalvy and the general area around Four Knocks. For anyone visiting the area, or even for local residents who have just moved into the area, it can be difficult to find one’s way around. Signage is wrong, non-existent or covered in vegetation. I also asked the Area Engineer to re-instate the street cleaning service for Ardcath. This whole part of East Meath often feels that Navan forgets it exists.

All the Councillors spoke about the need for a Julianstown bypass and how the road from Duleek to Julianstown should be re-aligned so that it comes out at the north of the village at the junction with the Laytown Road. After a lengthy debate the Area Manager agreed to consider putting a new roundabout in at this location in a few years.

We were then joined by another Council Official, who began her presentation in relation to new trees for Slane and Julianstown. She is proposing to plant 20 lime trees for Slane village, which seem should be wonderful, and also 20 horse-chestnut trees at the north of the village. When I saw the proposed location of the trees I got a shock:

We can’t put the trees there, that’s where we want our new roundabout to go!” I said, noticing that the horse-chestnuts were about to be planted at the preferred location of or the new roundabout.

What new roundabout?” she asked, noticeably puzzled all of a sudden.

The new roundabout we are trying to build to relieve traffic from Julianstown village” I responded. It wasn’t her fault. In fairness to her she had not heard the previous conversation about the potential roundabout with the Laytown road.

We can’t plant them and then just dig them up again in a few years. There’ll be uproar!” I said.

Another Councillor agreed “there’ll be eco-warriors and all sorts protestin!” he added.

Area Manager McDonnell stepped in. “Perhaps we should go back and talk again to Julianstown Residents Association about this” he suggested. For once we all agreed.

This weeks video is in relation to a 7-storey apartment block proposed for Ashbourne.

7-storey development adjoining 2-storey houses is excessive

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