Proposals for the overnight closure of a cross border mountain road to curb ‘sheep rustling’ and illegal dumping have been shot down by Louth County Council’s Chief Executive.
Councillor Antóin Watters raised the issue at the local authority’s monthly meeting, saying that residents in Edentubber had reported ongoing illegal dumping.
"Over the last number of weeks, farmers have also brought it to my attention that sheep are being rustled off the mountain, between 60 and 70 sheep, which is quite a significant value and loss to the farmers.”
He added that access seemed to be gained via the Turf Road, which is an area of high scenic value, but “unfortunately a lot of dumping, and a lot of illegal activity.”
Cllr. Watters said the council ‘really needs to look at closing this road at night time.’
He asked if there was a process for the road to be closed, on a temporary basis, each night, and could then be opened in the morning.
He added that he has been inundated with offers from people willing to act as keyholders, and suggested a system could be put in place to ensure access is maintained for the emergency services.
"I’m asking for the council to support some sort of protection in the area.”
Chief Executive Joan Martin said there was no option to close a public road overnight and added that the protection of sheep wasn’t the responsibility of the local authority.
She added that Cllr. Watters could bring forward a motion to abandon the road.
"It is a public road which is open to the public, but if you wish to abandon it as a road then the council wouldn’t be maintaining it.”
She said if there was a proposal to abandon the road, it would need public consultation.
"It is an important enough link road across the mountain, with people using it to get home.”
"But there is no option to close the road overnight, and protection of sheep is not a matter for Louth County Council.”
Cllr. John Reilly said as far as he knew it was an area of commonage. But he suggested that to put two gates on either side would help, which farmers could open and close.
But the Chief Executive responded: “This is a public road, and a lot more than the farmers use it. This is not a private farmers commonage at all.”
"We are not responsible for the operation of the commonage either,” she said, adding that they had put cattle grids for road safety.
Director of Service Catherine Duff added that it would not be a solution to have locked gate, saying “If somebody wanted to unlock the gates they would do it.”