Boundary report delay a sign of ‘arrogance’

Ger Aherne, the chairman of Save Roscommon, has strongly criticised the delay in publishing a report on the Athlone boundary review, describing the news as evidence of “deep-seated arrogance” and “disrespect”.

  It emerged this week that the review committee would not have its report completed, as planned, by March 31, because, they said, of the volume of submissions that were lodged during the process.

  In total, almost 28,000 submissions were filed, which was reflective of the strident opposition in Co. Roscommon against 38 sq km of the county being moved into Co. Westmeath.

  Mr. Aherne described the delay as “disappointing, but almost predictable”. He strongly criticised the fact that the news emerged only through the media.

  “One hundred years after the Rising, we still have flaws in our democracy, in that the citizens are being ignored and treated with contempt,” he said.

  “There has been no public notice that the deadline will not be met and when it actually will be met. The citizens of Roscommon haven’t been informed; the councillors in Roscommon and Westmeath have not been informed officially.

  “There is a deep-seated arrogance in all of that, coupled with disrespect.”

  While the review committee are responsible for the report, having been commissioned to undertake the project by acting Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, Mr. Aherne did not solely direct his anger at them.

  “We have an acting Minister; we have a government department which is responsible. The buck stops with them,” Mr. Aherne said.  

  Conscious that the election outcome and the scale of the opposition to any border change may have led to complacency recently, he added: “The biggest danger to the Save Roscommon campaign initially was apathy and complacency. We now have another form of apathy and complacency because we got such an overwhelmingly negative response.”

  He said, however, that until there was a “clear and unambiguous report” saying “this can never happen”, boundary change remain a live possibility.