Mary Robinson the people’s choice for name of Ballina footbridge

It is official, the most popular name for the Ballina pedestrian footbridge is to name the structure after former president Mary Robinson. This comes after the Fianna Fáil members of Ballina Town Council were accused of snubbing Mrs Robinson by Fine Gael councillor Michelle Mulherin, an accusation which was denied vehemently by the Fianna Fáil contingent on the council.

One hundred and eighty three public submissions were received by Ballina Town Council regarding the naming of the pedestrian bridge, 50 of those referring to Mary Robinson.

At the December meeting of the local authority the issue was aired. Previous to this meeting Cllr Johnny O’Malley had submitted a notice of motion that all works of public infrastructure should go out to public consultation prior to being named, but Cllr Mulherin had attached an amendment calling for the exclusion of the pedestrian bridge which she claimed should be named after Mary Robinson. However, following legal advice being sought, which found the amendment to be valid, the amendment was defeated in a vote and the issue was opened up to the public.

This week Cllr Mulherin has expressed her delight at the popularity of Mary Robinson’s name saying she was “pleased but not surprised”.

Other popular submissions were a variation of Beckett Bridge given that the land the bridge was built on was owned by the Becketts, a family who provided work in Ballina for three generations. There were 34 submissions supporting this particular name.

John Schneider/Hollister received 25 submissions, the Salmon Weir Bridge 15, with 59 miscellaneous other submissions.

“Promoting Ballina and putting it on the map should be top of the agenda for every councillor in the town and county area above party interest,” Cllr Mulherin said. “You don't fly your flag in the valley, you send it as high as you can with somebody who can take it to the top of the mountain. Mary Robinson is one of our best known Irish people. She is both respected and revered on the international stage and nobody is better placed to hold the flag highest for us,” she added.

However the naming of the bridge will ultimately be decided by the members of Ballina Town Council who will discuss the submissions at the April monthly meeting which is due to take place on April 21.

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