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The root of the matter

De Facto

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

One wonders if the ongoing saga over the trees at John’s Row in Westport has more to do with future development rather than current concern about footpaths. Roll on 20 years and John’s Row will have housing on both sides of the road from Peter Street to Barrack Hill.
The tree roots are upending the pavement, so rather than adjust paths you cut down the trees! It’s like the smoker who read so much about the evils of smoking that he gave up reading. Claims that the ‘wrong type of tree was planted’ belong in British Rail’s ‘wrong type of snow’ and ‘wrong type of leaves’ wardrobe.   
Residents were not suitably or adequately notified about what was to happen. There’s history here, from the proposed bridge linking the Leisure Park to St Mary’s Crescent, to running a cycleway through the centre of ‘The Muck’ in St Mary’s Crescent and the bridge to nowhere over the Old Railway Line Walk on the West Road.
With our planned town isn’t it strange that the only body that broke the street-line was Westport Town Council? Twice it happened on James Street, with the entrance to the Leisure Park and the carpark exit on the opposite side of the road. Houses were demolished in both cases, breaking the street line.  
We all thought that approach was in the past where little desktop thinkers, cosily ensconced in their taxpayer-funded offices, seem to think they have a divine right to wilfully ignore local people. It would be more suitable for those council officials to engage with the public on matters pertaining to people’s lives. Why don’t these officials ensure that designated (disabled) parking is provided at public amenity places like The Point and Bertra Beach?
Gardaí were on hand at John’s Row during a standoff between residents and council representatives. They would not have been needed if discussion had taken place before any action. Too often Gardaí are thrown into a mess created by council and department officials who refuse to think through their proposed actions. Gardaí don’t have a magic wand. We saw it during the Corrib Gas debacle when Gardaí were compromised on so many occasions by state stupidity and crassness.
This type of John’s Row approach by the council compromises the hard work and dedication of so many great and worthy officials within Mayo County Council. There have been great projects brought to fruition by successfully engaging with local people, most notably the Greenway between Westport and Achill. Imagine having to deal with landowners over a 42-kilometre stretch! It was done, successfully, because respect was at the centre of all negotiations.
Why is the practice of good manners from councils or government departments the exception rather than the rule? Naturally, many within the council are as equally aggrieved by the actions of a few colleagues as residents are.
Still, while we waste our nights and days fussing and fretting over local issues there are bigger fish to fry. Look at the poor old Taoiseach – he couldn’t even count to five without including two and a half! He likes halves, probably because he is a half-Taoiseach, having to share it with Leo.
With Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív acting as the stalking horse along comes Jim O’Callaghan, the knight in rusty iron. He said it’s not the time to change the party leader but, “It would be an honour for any member of Fianna Fáil to lead the party. I can’t predict the future. I’m certainly not going to say I’m not interested.” Back and knife spring to mind.
Across the pond, Britannia still waives the rules, continuing its historic and colonial psychosis of bulldozing its way through common sense, respect and mutual understanding. It’s funny that Boris fears that the EU can impose an internal border between two parts of the UK. He forgets the UK is a direct result of an internal border Britain imposed in Ireland. Bongo Bongo land, Bojo style!
Autumn comes and autumn leaves, especially the John’s Row leaves. We shall have to continue living and partly living. Our only choice, and hope, is to keep trying, stay talking and always extend the hand of forgiveness….