*Cllr Paul Murphy. Photograph: Eamon Ward.
A CLARECASTLE representative has said incompetent driving from older motorists and not armadillos is causing problems in Clonroadmore.
Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) was forced to withdraw a motion seeking the removal of “one side of the cycle lane, the bollards and armadillos on the road from Éire Óg GAA grounds to St Flannan’s College mainly due to health and safety grounds on a daily basis”.
There are currently plans to upgrade the current cycle lanes on Clonroadmore as part of the Clarecastle to Ennis Active Travel scheme. The present scheme was installed by Clare County Council in August 2019.
“It was a mistake from day one,” commented Cllr Daly. “It is something we have to look at seriously,” he told Tuesday’s meeting of the Ennis MD. “The road is too tight. There is a massive population from St Flannan’s College, there is a lot of people on the main road. Cyclists tell me one size of the road is sufficient for a cycling lane”.
Seconding the proposal, Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) pointed out that his own parents reside in College Grove. “I’m aware of all the concerns of residents there. Many of the bollards are missing from cars and vehicles that have hit them. As you get out of the car even with the colour of them they are very hard to see at night”.
€400 was the recent cost for a retired man following the damage to his car from stone built up a junction on the road, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) flagged. He commended Cllr Daly for raising the matter.
Strong opposition was then voiced by Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) who appeared shocked that the motion was tabled. “In this day and age, I’m disappointed that we’re talking about taking out cycling lanes or reducing them. It is a 1.2km stretch, St Flannan’s College and Ennis NS both benefit from this cycle scheme, it was proposed by Clare Colleran Molloy in 2017, it went through all appropriate forms of public consultation”.
He continued, “I cannot support the motion, most certainly not, I drop my children to St Flannan’s College, unfortunately because the Clareabbey Roundabout is not safe enough for me to allow them to cycle from Barntick”. Murphy was critical of residents in the area, “I have it from witnesses that residents have dug bollards out of it, I know one youngster who cycles from Inis Cláir on Kildysart Rd, he is given a safe passage to St Flannan’s College, by doing this you would be taking that away from him”.
“This is unbelievable and regressive. Elderly people are not able to deal with it, that it is a bigger issue and that is incompetent driving, them being allowed to drive is a bigger issue, in our country you get a licence for life which is an issue. The motion needs to be withdrawn,” the Clarecastle native stressed.
Backing the call for a withdrawal was Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) who recalled that she “took a bit of heat” following the installation of the armadillos and bollards. She referenced a public meeting held around 2019 when some “residents bravely spoke up in favour of it”. The Ballybeg based representative admitted, “I am surprised to see the motion which I would agree at the description of regressive. We’ve heard it from TY students that they want a safe access to schools”.
A reminder on why the traffic had to be slowed down was provided by Cllr Mary Howard (FG). “It was a huge issue at the last local election and we were all asked to consider doing something about the speed. Three young girls were knocked down outside the school, one at that side and two at Captain Mac’s side, I remember getting a call from a father of one of the girls to go down and see here and I’ll never forget it, how she is still alive is beyond me”. With St Flannan’s set to become the biggest school in Munster, she stated, “every single one of those children need to be protected, if we protect them by using a cycle lane then I’m very happy with that”.
Cllr Flynn told the meeting he had no recollection of the public meeting referenced by Cllr Colleran Molloy. “I cycled to school in Flannan’s, I’m in agreement with safe cycling, I was against the littering of roads with armadillos, I was concerned with the infringement on their ability to get in and outside, I was down there last week and nearly scratched my car and I’m not what Paul would describe as an overage driver”. He maintained a properly segregated cycling lane is required, “it is difficult for us as a local authority to admit that we made a mistake”.
“I am amazed at the comments made today, nobody is talking about taking away cycling lanes,” Cllr O’Callaghan responded. This prompted Cllr Murphy and Cllr Howard to refer to the motion which called for the removal of one side of the cycling lane.
Residents had asked Cllr Daly to raise the matter, he told the meeting. “Taking out cycle lane may not be a good idea but I’ll fight all the way to take armadillos and bollards, I know one man who has fell on top of it several times and he has got hurt. I will withdraw the motion but I will fight all the way to get rid of the bollards and armadillos”.