Ross considering appointing intermediary in Railway Field dispute

Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, is considering appointing an intermediary in the Railway Field dispute between Westmeath County Council and CIE.

A delegation from Athlone Municipal District met with Minister Ross in Dublin on October 19 to outline the reasons why acquiring the piece of land is crucial to the development of the town. Minister Ross expressed his desire to try and satisfy the concerns of both stakeholders, and suggested appointing a intermediary as the best way forward.

Director of services, Barry Kehoe, said the council have submitted a traffic management analysis for Church Street to CIE due to the company’s concern that any traffic directed up Station Road could have a negative impact on its business. The council is still waiting for a response.

Fine Gael councillor and Mayor of Athlone, John Dolan, expressed his gratitude to the Minister for following through on the meeting despite the fact that the Minister’s mother had passed away in the days prior to it and he was “in the middle of funeral arrangements”. While he felt the meeting went well, he said he is disappointed that no response has come from CIE, despite the understanding that it would be forthcoming by “a week to 10 days” after the meeting.

Cllr Dolan’s sentiment was echoed by Fianna Fáil councillor, Aengus O’Rourke, who said he expected to receive a progress update at Monday’s meeting this week. He supported the call for appointing an intermediary, but urged the council to seek a follow-up with the Minister in the near future.

Sinn Féin’s Paul Hogan also expressed his disappointment. He said the recent meeting in Dublin led him to believe progress would be made in the designated timeframe. He supported the call for sending a letter to the Minister to enquire about “the kind of timeframe involved” in the process.

Mr Kehoe urged councillors to allow the Minister more time to converse with CIE on the issue before issuing another letter. He said if there is no sign of any progress in a week another letter should be sent, and added that the issue will now become a permanent fixture on the council’s monthly agenda.

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