The elected members of the West Mayo Municipal District have asked Mayo County Council to obtain legal advice after a Local Improvement Scheme (LIS ) work on a private road in Kilmeena had been held up, because one of the residents on the road refused to give their approval for the work to take place.
LIS projects see work carried out on roads not under the control of the council, where councillors allocate money from an allocation they get each year for jobs like this, and a contribution is made by the resident or residents on the road towards the work also.
Independent councillor Michael Holmes said this week at the June meeting of the Municipal District: "We have a problem with the situation where people have applied for LIS funding and councillors have said they'd give some money to it, but because they are not getting the full support of all the residents it's not happening.
"We have a situation near this town in Kilmeena, where there's a lady at the end of a road who can not get in or out of her house at the moment. They have applied for the funding and as I say, quite a few councillors have offered to put in some funding, but it can't be done.
"I don't know where we're going to go, because since this first surfaced it has happened more and more in other areas. What is the situation? Where do the council stand? What happens if the council are asked to take over a housing estate and everyone won't agree? And this isn't a question of funding, I just want to highlight and see where this can be taken. Do we say, sorry there's nothing we can do?"
Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh added: "I completely support that it is completely unacceptable that one house in a village can hold the rest to ransom. We have a legal team at our disposal. We need to use that in the first instance to see what we can do and fully examine how this can be allowed to happen. We need a full legal investigation, besides the fact that it's morally wrong that one person in a village can hold the rest to ransom and prevent access to someone else's home."
Westport based Fianna Fáil councillor Brendan Mulroy said: "I wonder can we as council not just take over that road? Legally, I'm not really interested is it right or wrong, but morally, it's in our best interest to help this woman out, because no-one else will help her, that's the bottom line. It's an awful situation. That road is in an awful way, it's farcical. If we can forget about the problem and work around it our own way, just go in and take it over.
"In the bigger picture, the LIS will have to be revisited and there should be no way that people can stop it going on."
His fellow Westport based councillor Theresa Maguire said: "It's a moral ransom, I agree completely. I understand Cllr Mulroy's frustrations with legality, it's one of those unusal times where all councillors are willing to give money but we can't spend it."
Padraig Walsh, senior engineer with Mayo County Council, told the elected members: "The way LIS is approached, the view that would have been held for a lot of years is that these are roads that are not public, the consent of the beneficial users of the road was always required before works was carried out. The question as to whether one can proceed when that consent is not forthcoming from one individual is something that would have to be looked at by the council from a legal point of view, what options, if any, there are."