Protesters stop pile driver from being used in controversial city bridge scheme
PROTESTERS opposed to a new bridge which they say will damage a city's medieval heritage have stopped builders from using a pile driver machine .
Earlier this week members of a group opposed to the Central Access Scheme bridge (CAS) in Kilkenny city addressed a monthly meeting of the county council.
The CAS – which is a new bridge – is being built to help alleviate traffic congestion and ease access to the city.
However the protesters are calling for additional work to be done to the ring road as an alternative to the new bridge.
Liz Campbell said protesters managed to stop the pile driver – essential for the building of the new bridge over the Nore – at around 3pm yesterday for the first time since their three-week protest campaign began.
"At around 1pm today the pile driver machine moved towards the river. A group of us decided to take action and put on safety jackets and got into canoes," said Ms Campbell.
Several protesters got into canoes and kayaks in the water just in front of the machinery, as part of their peaceful protest to stop the work going ahead.
"We stayed close to where the machinery was going to be used. We stayed there for up to two hours (while contractors made attempts to use the machinery).
"Eventually the contractor came over to us with a deal. He said they would remove the machinery if we moved 40 metres away from where they are working.
"We agreed to move and so the machinery was moved back to the yard."
Protesters have branded a proposed new bridge and road a "horrific plan".
They have also gathered outside the county hall, where the meeting was held, to show their opposition to the scheme, which includes a new bridge and road for the city. After an adjournment of that meeting, Fianna Fail council chairman Pat Millea said it would hold an emergency meeting in the next week to discuss An Bord Pleanala's decision to grant approval for the city's northern ring road extension.
Campaigners have already been involved in a 24-hour protest at the site for the past three weeks.
Last weekend up to 40 gardai, including officers in riot gear, facilitated the safe passage of construction machinery at a bridge site.
Gardai cordoned off Green's Bridge close to where the new bridge will be constructed, and part of the Irishtown area of the city.
Protesters believe the scheme will damage Kilkenny's medieval heritage.
Two protesters camped overnight contacted others when gardai moved in.
As more campaigners joined in, the protest remained peaceful and there were no arrests, but one person was cautioned.