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Thursday 24 July 2014

Protesters’ blockade to save medieval city

Jerome Reilly

Published 13/07/2014|02:30

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Ita Morrissey and her son Theo at the site for the new bridge over the Nore. Photo Pat Moore
Ita Morrissey and her son Theo at the site for the new bridge over the Nore. Photo Pat Moore

PROTESTERS are camping out on the banks of the River Nore this weekend over controversial plans to build a new 700-metre road into the heart of the medieval city of Kilkenny.

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Opponents to the development claim the €10.7m Central Access Scheme (CAS), which was first mooted 36 years ago as an inner-ring road, will bring heavy traffic through residential areas and destroy the fabric of the historic town centre.

Those backing the scheme say it is vital to open up Kilkenny for business, ease traffic congestion and create a unified city centre.

About 20 protesters successfully stopped heavy lorries carrying pile-driving equipment on to the construction site for a new bridge over the Nore, which is part of the scheme, on Friday.

Any delay in construction work on the 65 metre bridge could pose a problem as Inland Fisheries have demanded all “in-river” work be finished by September to protect fish stocks.

Many opponents of the Central Access Scheme are calling instead for the completion of the €44m

outer-ring road around the city.

Spokeswoman Geni Murphy said that completing the outer-ring road would take heavy traffic away from the heart of Kilkenny so the new city road would not be needed. But Martin Costello, President of Kilkenny

Chamber of Commerce, said the existing Green’s Bridge which was originally built in 1766 is no longer fit for purpose.

“We feel the new bridge is necessary though I would personally have concerns over the design. The Central Access Scheme will make it easier for everyone to get in and out of Kilkenny,” Mr Costello told the Sunday Independent. Geni Murphy said the bridge blockade on Friday was a “spontaneous reaction” against CAS.

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