Councillors in Ballina have criticised the local Chamber of Commerce for their campaign to increase the speed limit on the Foxford to Ballyvary road, which was reduced due to safety concerns.
The Ballina Chamber of Commence objected to the reduction of the speed limit along the N58 from 100kms per hour to 80kms, as well as a speed reduction at the Cloongullane Bridge on the N26 near Swinford.
The Chamber claimed that the reduction in the speed limit along the road between Ballina and Castlebar will damage businesses in the town. This was disputed by local councillors at last week’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council where the Chamber were accused of making ‘idiots of themselves’.
“I think the people involved realised after their outing on Midwest Radio that they made complete idiots of themselves. Anyone who would not agree to a reduction of speed limit around Cloongullane Bridge has something grievously wrong [with them],” Independent councillor Gerry Ginty told the meeting.
Cllr Ginty rejected claims the reduction will not affect businesses in Ballina, saying he was a businessman and he would not do anything which would allow this to happen.
“The strange thing, which defies all logic, is that the reduction in the speed limit will destroy the speed limit in the town of Ballina. Why are the Castlebar people not worried by the reduction because I believe people drive in both directions. Why will the traffic limits from Foxford to Ballyvary not affect business in Castlebar but will destroy the town of the Ballina?” he said.
The recommendations to reduce the speed limits on the N58 and at Cloongullane Bridge was made by Transport Infrastructure Ireland due to safety concerns. The recommendations were adopted by both the Ballina and Castlebar Municipal Districts and by Mayo County Council.
Ballina-based Fianna Fáil councillor Annie Mae Reape said she recently met with the TII as a member of the Roads SPC and were told: ‘we were a laughing stock’.
“They [TII] never came across anything like it … to reverse a speed limit where the road is dangerous. I won’t be told by the Chamber of Commerce what we should be doing,” she said.
The matter was raised by Foxford-based councillor Neil Cruise, who asked for an update on when the speed signs would be erected, because he claimed the delay was ‘getting farcical’.
Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes said that he understood that the TII will have the contracts in place by the end of October and the speed limit will be ‘rolled out as soon as possible’. He said it was the democratic right of any group to campaign against something but there was no motion to revert the recommendation before the council.