There were calls this week for the council to take action to remove a group of caravans parked on the Creggan interchange, after councillors said local residents were growing anxious at their continued presence in the area.
Cllr Frankie Keena raised the issue at Monday’s Athlone Area meeting, saying it was “unfair on residents” and “unhygienic” to have caravans parked at the roadside at Creggan.
“Twenty-five years ago a halting site was mooted for Athlone, so there would be no more caravans on roadsides. Presently there are eight at the Creggan interchange. They should be moved to a transient site or moved on altogether,” said Cllr Keena.
Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said it was a “disgrace” that illegally erected signs along motorways are quickly removed, yet illegally parked caravans are not.
“Are we afraid to go in...we set up a site to put these people into. If we can implement the law on signs on the motorway, we should do the same with people who are illegally camping,” he said.
While Cllr Keena pushed for local authority staff to visit the site the following morning to begin efforts to move the caravans, director of services Barry Kehoe told councillors there is a process that must be followed.
“The council is working with local residents to render this area unsuitable for the temporary parking of caravans and this work will be done as soon as the caravans currently at the site have left. Should further measures be required as well as the proposed works, then these can be considered in due course,” said Mr Kehoe.
“We have to go through a process and do things properly, with the serving of notices and with the help of Gardai. We will start the process to get them off the land they are on as soon as we pin down what needs to be done with the site,” he added.