People power wins




Breakthrough on Cootehall and Croghan junctions



It was the end of October…just over five weeks ago. Noel McTiernan had had enough. The local resident and businessman was reflecting the long-held concerns of many neighbours when he decided it was time for the community to try – again – to address a major road safety issue in the area.

  Noel decided to organise a public meeting. It was held in St. Michael’s GAA clubhouse and was attended by over 200 people. Up for discussion was the growing concern within the community over safety issues relating to two junctions, one a turn for Croghan and one for Cootehall (both on the N4).

  There was, Noel noted, a sense of “fear” in the room that night. Local residents have in fact been worried for a number of years. It’s very much a saga by now. There have been numerous accidents over the years…and ongoing fears that a fatality could happen at any time.

  Noel had gauged the public mood accurately. Now, people power kicked in. Over 1,200 people signed a petition, and there was a huge response to an online survey which called for feedback on accidents at either junction, whether previously reported or otherwise.

  After a characteristic fist-thumping speech at the meeting, Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice set up a meeting between concerned parties and the TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland). It went ahead last Tuesday – and it went well. The TII gave a commitment to fund the provision of right-hand lanes at both the Cootehall and Croghan junctions. The work should be starting in early 2019.  

  I contacted Noel McTiernan to ask if this is what the local campaigners wanted.

  “Absolutely. We very much welcome this news, but we won’t be claiming a ‘victory’ until the work is actually done. But we’re very happy with how the meeting went”.

  Noel was anxious to thank committee colleagues for all their hard work in recent weeks. That committee rolled their sleeves up. People power indeed took over. Motorists who had been involved in accidents were spoken to. The online survey sought information not alone on accidents, but also on near-misses (Noel: “Every near-miss could have been a fatality”). Noel says what secured the TII funding commitment was the revelation about the volume of traffic on the road – and the research which detailed the amount of collisions there have been in recent years. He wishes to thank the committee members for their great work – namely Brian Lee, Mo Robertson, Michael Cryan, Niall Fallon, Paul Duignan and Sinead Flynn.

  Noel also acknowledged the very positive input of Eugene Dwyer (Senior Engineer) of Roscommon County Council. He was grateful too for the support of local politicians. 

  “We are thankful to all local politicians. There was genuine cross-party support. They were all behind us. I might just single out Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice for special mention. Michael said that he would arrange a meeting with the TII and he was good to his word”.

  Now, the TII has pledged funding. The local community will wait for delivery, and wait with confidence.

  “We won’t celebrate yet, but we’re very happy” says Noel. “This was people power in action – we have been living in fear for too long”.