Report recommends no change to Athlone boundary

Supporters of the ‘Save Roscommon’ campaign have expressed delight that Roscommon is to remain “intact”, after a controversial report on the future of the county boundary recommended no change.

The long-awaited report, the results of which were made public last Thursday, recommended that the Westmeath county boundary should not be extended to take in an area of south Roscommon including Monksland, Bealnamulla, Drum, and Kiltoom.

The report of the Athlone Boundary Committee took account of the strength of public opposition to the proposed changes across Roscommon communities, and urged both councils to work together to develop a “unified vision for Athlone”. Some 28,000 submissions were made to the boundary committee by members of the public, of which just two were in favour of changing the boundary.

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten (Ind ) welcomed the report’s recommendation, saying it would take the issue of the county boundary off the agenda.

However Fianna Fáil’s Deputy Eugene Murphy gave a more cautious response to the report, saying the boundary change “has not been written off completely”.

“I am not happy that the proposed boundary changes which seek to co-opt parts of County Roscommon into Westmeath have been completely written off – the boundary report states that there must be a joint local area plan within 24 months, a joint retail strategy within 18 months, and a service delivery analysis and plan within nine months while the implementation of these service delivery changes must take place within three years,” said Deputy Murphy.

He also pointed out that the boundary report indicated that local authority services between Roscommon and Westmeath should be shared and this could be extended to other organisations such as the HSE and the IDA.

“I think this is a sophisticated way of getting around it. The boundary report is a plan of action with a number of issues to be addressed within specific deadlines and in my view the Minister needs to scrap this plan of action in the boundary report and simply take the issue off the table completely, as this still leaves a veil of uncertainty over the issue,” he added.

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