More than 1,500 people attended a highly charged meeting on Monday evening to register their opposition to controversial Government plans to partition the county and transfer 30 square kilometres over to Westmeath.
The meeting, held in the Athlone Springs Hotel in Monksland, was organised by the ‘Save Roscommon’ group, and ran form 8pm until close to midnight as almost 50 speakers voiced their opposition to the proposal by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.
The Minister set up a committee last year to produce a report proposing that areas of South Roscommon including Monksland, Bealnamulla, Summerhill, Cloonakilla, and Drum should be taken away from County Roscommon and brought into County Westmeath. The move would result in the loss of up to 7,000 people, some 10 per cent of County Roscommon’s population.
Speaking at the meeting, an impassioned Deputy Denis Naughten said he was “sick and tired” of the proposal. “I was born in County Roscommon and I want to be buried in County Roscommon,” he added.
Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran said the proposal was “sucking the life out of Roscommon and the west of Ireland”, while business people also had strong words about any partition of the county.
CEO of Sidero John Mee, who employs 75 people in Monksland, said Roscommon County Council had always looked after the area very well, building up expertise in areas such as pharma and food.
Speaking on behalf of Roscommon Chamber of Commerce, Declan Molloy pointed out: “Per capita, Roscommon sends more students to college than any other but has less of them coming back than any other county so we need Monksland.”
There was also strong support form the local GAA, with chairperson of the County Board Seamus Sweeney adding “We are from Connacht and will never be from Leinster.”
The meeting closed to a rousing rendition of the County Roscommon anthem, ‘Land of the O’Connor’, sung by Johnny Johnston.
Chairman of Save Roscommon, Cllr Tony Ward urged all interested parties to make submissions on the proposal at www.athloneboundaryreview.ie before the deadline of January 27, 2016.