Trevor Quinn and Edwin McGreal
Fianna Fail Councillor Johnnie O’Malley has asked county manager Mr Peter Hynes to explain why three Ballina signs on the N17 have disappeared.
The disgruntled Fianna Fail representative highlighted the signage issue at last week’s meeting of Ballina Town Council. He said three Ballina signs in the vicinity of Claremorris along the main Galway to Sligo road had been replaced by signs for Ballintubber Abbey, The Museum of Country Life and Turlough House.
“It’s so important that these signs are replaced and there is some recognition that we exist,” said Cllr O’Malley. The councillor said he had recently met two American tourists who had taken the road and who said they had great difficulty finding Ballina. Such a lack of signage was simply not acceptable on such a prominent route as the N17, he said.
Cllr O’Malley revealed that he was so infuriated by the thoughts of inadequate signage that he drove to the area himself, where he was ‘very surprised’ to see that a sign for Ballina had been removed from a multi-destination sign at the roundabout just before the McWilliam Park Hotel. The councillor also noted that two other signs on the route were missing.
He said the removal of the signs for Ballina was sure to be having a detrimental effect on the local economy, and that it was likely that many tourists were facing similar challenges in locating the town.
He added, “Ballina is working very hard to promote itself as a tourist destination and what’s the point if you can’t find the place because there are no signs? The town council is investing €20,000 into tourism promotion each year. What’s the point if people can’t find the place?”
The issue resurfaced at yesterday’s Roads and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee meeting in Castlebar. Laying the blame for the removal of the signs at the door of the National Roads Authority, Cllr Jimmy Maloney said, “We’re completely and totally controlled by Dublin. The NRA seem to be like Hitler – ‘We’re right and that’s it’.”