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Sunday 23 October 2016

Roscommon 'will not be divided' if Enda Kenny is re-elected Taoiseach

Clear eve of election promise mirrors 2011 pledge on the local hospital

John Downing, Political Correspondent

Published 02/02/2016 | 16:49

Michael Fitzmaurice
Michael Fitzmaurice

VOTERS in Roscommon have been given another clear eve of election pledge – this time that the county will not be divided if Enda Kenny is re-elected Taoiseach.

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The pledge resembles the Fine Gael promise – not to downgrade the local hospital - given during the 2011 general election campaign.  That undertaking was broken soon afterwards causing huge division and political fall-out.

On his last day answering TDs’ questions, Mr Kenny told Independent Roscommon-Galway deputy, Michael Fitzmaurice, that he did not back a proposal to shift 38 square kilometres, close to Athlone, from Roscommon to Westmeath.

The proposal has been advanced as necessary to facilitate more efficient administration of Athlone which is rapidly expanding westward on the Roscommon bank of the River Shannon.

The proposal is currently being examined by an expert group  who are due to report on February 29 – three days after the expected polling day.

Mr Fitzmaurice told the Dáil that under British rule, one western corner had been put into Westmeath, making it the poorest part of the county ever since. He urged the Taoiseach to pledge today that, if he was re-elected Taoiseach, Roscommon would not be divided – and the River Shannon would remain the county boundary with the area known as Monksland not going to Westmeath.

“Will you give that undertaking here today?” Mr Fitzmaurice asked.

The Taoiseach said the expert group would produce a non-binding administrative report which would go to politicians for their consideration. He said the issue arose because of a fear that infrastructural development of the area known as Monksland, part of the Athlone hinterland, though in Roscommon, was not getting the best possible council service.

“I agree with you – people would be very upset if they were to see that area shifted to another district. And I’m very much a supporter of developing Roscommon as an entity. Why wouldn’t I be?” Mr Kenny said.

 “I’ll answer your question in the affirmative – if I have anything to do with it – that’s my belief,”  Mr Kenny said.

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