Fianna Fáil Deputy for Roscommon-Galway, Eugene Murphy, has expressed his frustration regarding what he sees as “blatant cloak and dagger tactics” surrounding the report from the Athlone Boundary Committee.
Deputy Murphy made the comment late last week after Minister for Local Government, Simon Coveney, said he will hold off on publishing the Westmeath-Roscommon boundary review until all four reports concerning Carlow, Drogheda, Waterford, and Athlone are submitted.
Answering a question posed by Deputy Murphy on the issue last Thursday, Minister Coveney said he intends to publish all the reports together “at an early date”, but did not confirm when that may be.
Athlone councillors have long held that the co-opting of parts of Roscommon is being driven purely by administrative concerns. Areas of Roscommon including Monksland are currently under the administration of Roscommon regional offices while Westmeath’s regional offices in Athlone have no input. However, Deputy Murphy has slammed that suggestion and called on Minister Coveney to publish Athlone Boundary Committee’s submission immediately.
“I am calling on the Minister to publish this important report that he has in his possession now and let us see what the commission recommends,” he said. “This report may recommend that Monksland and surrounding areas are taken out of County Roscommon in some half-baked plan to unify Athlone for the purpose of local authority planning and effectiveness.
“This is completely unacceptable. I have not met one resident in that area who is willing to suddenly become part of Westmeath. The generations of families who are proud Roscommon people will not stand for any change in this regard.”
Deputy Murphy suggested the main motivation behind the desire in Athlone to extend the Westmeath border is largely based on rates: “The largest employer in Co Roscommon, Alkermes Ireland (formally Elan ), and the highest commercial rates payers will suddenly be taken out of the area of Roscommon County Council as well,” he said.
“My hope is that when this report is published there will be no change to the boundary and that this will be the end of the matter.”