It is back to the drawing board for a playground for Tyrrellspass, after the council’s preferred site was shot down following a heated debate at Monday’s county council meeting.
A number of Tyrrellspass residents were in attendance to hear the decision, which divided councillors to such an extent that there were calls for the resignation of Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on children, Deputy Robert Troy, and cathaoirleach Cllr Peter Burke had a tough job keeping order during the debate.
Cllr Joe Flanagan formally proposed that the land at the Mullingar Road be handed over for use as a playground, saying “I have wondered did Tyrrellspass think they were getting a nuclear plant, there was so much toing and froing”.
However there was opposition from Cllrs Paul Daly and Ger Corcoran. Cllr Daly emphasised he was “in favour of a playground, but the residents of the area are unanimously opposed to the playground at this site”.
“It is wrong to pass this and propose a playground that will be divisive - it is not the purpose of a playground to put a hatchet down the middle of a community,” he said.
Cllr Corcoran added that “This proposal is being forced on a number of locations. People don’t want this, even people with children”.
However Cllr Colm Arthur drew on previous local experience, saying “Rochfortbridge was told they had the wrong place for a playground, and now it is one of the best in the country”, calling Cllrs Daly and Corcoran “weak” for not engaging with locals on the issue and calling on Deputy Troy to step down over his stance against the proposal.
Cllrs Denis Leonard and Mick Dollard were adamant the views of the local community have to be considered, while Cllrs Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Frankie Keena both said they had received representations against the location.
While Cllr Joe Flanagan said he was prepared to withdraw his support for the proposed location, he was anxious that the opportunity for LEADER funding might be lost.
“We had four sites on the table - are we going to be back to the same scenario?” he wondered.
A vote on the proposal revealed seven councillors in favour of the proposed site and 15 against.