Fine Gael Cllr, Neil Feighery

Frustration at curbs on council’s ability to slash Durrow speed limits

A Fine Gael member of Offaly County Council has claimed this week that local democracy is being “watered down and ignored” by unelected officials in State companies.

The claim was made by Cllr Neil Feighery, in light of the recommendation from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) that speed limits on what locals says is a dangerous stretch of road from Tullamore to Kilbeggan at Durrow should be reduced to 80kph, instead of the 60kph limit sought by local councillors.

TII is the State body responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the national primary and secondary road network in Ireland.

At their monthly meeting on Monday of this week, the elected members of Offaly County Council voted to adopt a new traffic speeding regime for the county – including the reduction of the speed limit at Durrow from the existing 100kph to 80kph – a move which Cllr Feighery says has left him feeling “very frustrated and annoyed.”

Speaking to the Offaly Independent, Cllr Feighery said TII had “completely overruled” the wishes of the councillors and the local community in Durrow to have the speed limit on the N52 reduced to 60kph, and he has vowed to bring the people who made that decision before a meeting of the council “to explain the rationale behind it”.

Having also been told at Monday's council meeting that the proposed new link road from Tullamore to Kilbeggan, which is seen as the only viable long-term solution to ease traffic concerns in Durrow, will not now go ahead, Cllr Feighery says the local community in Durrow are “very fearful and very fatigued".

“For TII to use their veto over the wishes of the local community and the elected representatives flies in the face of local democracy,” said the local Fine Gael Cllr, “and I am determined to push forward with making the unelected officials in TII come before a meeting to explain how they came to a decision to only reduce the speed limit in Durrow from 100kph to 80kph which does not go far enough to ensure the safely of the local community.

“The area of most concern for the community is the busy junction where the N52 meets the Durrow High Road, where the local primary school is located.

“Families are being forced to wait for up to nine minutes in their cars on the busy N52 in the mornings before they can safely cross the road to drop off their kids to school, and it's the same again in the evenings as they try to safely make their way out onto the N52 from the High Road, it makes no sense whatsoever not to reduce the speed limit,” said Cllr Feighery.