*Photograph: John Mangan

CLARE’s first citizen has slammed the inaction from relevant authorities for failing to fix the historical flooding problems at Ballycar.

A six week suspension of rail services between Limerick and Galway affecting all Clare rail users is expected due to the flooding issues along the line at Ballycar in Newmarket-on-Fergus.

Mayor of Clare, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) was critical of those responsible for failing to deal with the long-running issue. “It is a joke, a disgrace and a let-down to rural Ireland. I can guarantee you that if it was in the catchment area of Dublin it would be sorted a long time ago,” he told Wednesday’s meeting of the Killaloe Municipal District.

At this meeting, Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) who had tabled his motion on March 5th before the latest instance of flooding, asked the Killaloe MD had a full survey and costings been completed to eliminate flooding in the future.

Urgent action is required, Cllr O’Callaghan said, “the talking is over on this ongoing issue in Ballycar”. “I’m calling on our Chief Executive to take on the role of dealing with this solution,” he stated while acknowledging the ongoing uncertainty on who will lead the works.

Limerick TD Brian Leddin (GP) this week commented, “To date there has been little urgency on the part of the Minister, his Department or the OPW to resolve the issue. It is absolutely unacceptable that the fastest growing rail service in the country which connects the third and fourth largest cities will be closed indefinitely. This is despite multiple warnings and the solution and the costs having been identified a number of years ago”.

His remarks were referenced by Cllr O’Callaghan who said Deputy Leddin needs to put further pressure on the Transport Minister, Eamon Ryan (GP) to “write the cheque and get the work done as soon as possible”. He continued, “it is unbelievable that this is still holding the whole thing up. The issue is going on for years and years”.

Demand for passengers to use the western rail corridor has been ignored with the oblivious approach to the problem, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) maintained. “They want people on trains, now they want them on buses, it is chaos in Limerick and people won’t use the service again”.

Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe MD, Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) said, “The people leading the solution to this are sitting on their hands and not doing anything about it”.

Iarnród Éireann do not have power outside their boundary, Cllr O’Callaghan told the meeting. “It will be a toss-up between Clare County Council and OPW, I’ve utmost confidence in the Council leading this if Eamon Ryan ponies up and gives the money”.

Elected members in the Shannon Municipal District also highlighted the matter at their meeting on Tuesday. Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) labelled it “a total and utter disaster” that there is no functioning train for students going to school or college in Limerick from Sixmilebridge. He added, “Cllr McMahon has made several applications to have this problem solved, if this was the case outside Dublin or Kildare the funding would be provided. Local farmers have spoke with all the members, there seems to be no real interest in solving it. It is going on way too long”.

Nearly 140 people including Government Ministers were on the farm of Martin Liddy in Ballycar almost forty years ago when when it seemed a solution was imminent, Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) recalled, “that will tell you how the long the scenario is going on”. Both Cllr John Crowe (FG) and Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) said their phones were “hopping” with constituents ringing them to complain over the suspended rail service.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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