independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Mallow to seek legal advice after access to river blocked

BILL BROWNE

MALLOW Town Council is to seek legal advice in relation to the blocking of an access to the River Blackwater at an area known locally as The Bulwarks.

The issue was raised at the July meeting of the council in a joint motion by Cllrs Jerry Mullally (Lab) and Dan Joe Fitzgerald (FF).

They asked that the council write to the OPW "on behalf of the people of Mallow" seeking clarification on why the right of way at Quartertown was extinguished during flood relief works.

Cllr Mullally said it was an issue of great concern to the people of the town and there was an onus on the council to address it.

This despite his pointing out that Mallow town clerk Liz Donovan had said it was a matter for the people using it.

"People had been using it to walk their dogs and exercise for years and now find they can not anymore. You can see when the flood works started there was an effort to leave a right of way because there is a bridge there," said Cllr Mullally.

"I fail to understand how the right of way disappeared when the flood works were completed, leaving people with no access. I know there are two owners of the land, Iarnrod Eireann and a private landowner. This must be resolved and handed back to the people of Mallow," he added.

Cllr Fitzgerald said he wanted to find out why the area had been "locked up" and the right of way extinguished.

"If a place has been in public use for a long time, as this has, an automatic right of way is established. I would like to know the content of the conversation between the OPW, the flood plan contractor and the landowner when this decision was made," said Cllr Fitzgerald.

"We as a council should pursue this on behalf of the people of Mallow, not simply drop it like that. Perhaps the best route to take would be to seek legal advice," he added.

Cllr James Kennedy (Lab) said it was incumbent on the council to ask if the OPW had powers to extinguish a right of way, while his party colleague, Cllr Roisin Lucey, said it felt as though the area had been "stolen" from the people of the town.

Cllr Noel O'Connor (FG) said the council should write to the OPW seeking an explanation.

"We just can't wash our hands of this," he added.

Town engineer Keith Jones said he felt the issue may have more to do with the landowner than the OPW. "I see no reason why we could not write to the OPW but it may be better to seek legal advice beforehand to see if as right of way exists and what our options are," he said, adding that he will consult council solicitors.

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