Sunday 22 September 2019

Public to have a say in bridge's name

How the new bridge will look
How the new bridge will look

Over the summer people will be able to send in their suggestions for the new name for the country's longest bridge, which will span the River Barrow.

New Ross Municipal District Director Eamonn Hore said the naming of infrastucture like bridges has always been the reserve function of councillors. He said New Ross councillors unanimously agreed on the name the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge last year.

Mr Hore said: 'The bypass will have a significant affect on New Ross,' adding that it comes out at Dunganstown, where the Kennedy family hail from and arising from all of the connections the town has with the family that produced a US president.

'Subsequently things went a little bit off the rails so we are coming to you to look for your support.'

He suggested letting people make submissions via letters and emails of what name they would like the bridge to be called and for the submissions to be whittled down to a shortlist, before the final name is chosen.

A steering committee of three people from Wexford County Council and three people from Kilkenny County Council will oversee the project.

'That may satisify everybody,' Mr Hore said.

New Ross Municipal District Cathaoirleach said it was unfortunate that there was so much 'totally unwarranted' vitriol online over councillors' decision to go with the Kennedy name.

Mr Hore said: 'The councillors did nothing wrong. They made a decision like members in other local authorities do all the time.'

Director of Services with Kilkenny County Council, Mary Mulholland said the matter should be dealt with by Piltown Municipal District councillors.

Mr Hore said it was a unique situation in that the bridge straddles two counties, so two councils have to get involved in the decision making process.

The meeting heard that a panel can take submissions on the name over the course of a month and afterwards a recommended name or names can be brought to New Ross councillors for consideration.

Cllr John Fleming said the Kennedy name is part of the area's past, present and future.

He said: 'Joe Kennedy is knowledgable about his roots and about where he is from. Hopefully he will be a future presidnt. Imagine the impact of having a president coming to New Ross again. I can't think of another name that will have a similar impact from a tourism and an economic point of view.'

He said the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name will make international headlines as it will be the longest bridge in Ireland and because of its Kennedy connections.

Cllr Fidelis Doherty said there are other names other than the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name which can be used for the bridge. 'Another name is possible and other names should be looked at,' she said.

Chairman Cllr Ger Frisby said steering committees will be established for Piltown and New Ross municipal district.

Director of Services with Kilkenny County Council Mary Mulholland said the Heritage Officer from that local authority could be asked to get involved, adding that bridge names should derive from names which have a long significance in an area.

Mr Hore said: 'Some of the other names chosen are very deserving of recognition.'

Cllr Tomás Breathnach asked what happens if Kilkenny County Council decides to reject a name approved by the two municipal councils.

Ms Mulholland said a protocol group needs to be set up.

Cllr Frisby said: 'The group will work through these issues and have a protocol in place for any conflict.'

'The DJ Carey bridge won't be satisfactory,' one New Ross councillor said.

Ms Mulholland said: 'It will be the bridge of the Pink Rock for many people for a long time.'

Mr Hore said he would like the name to be decided on over the coming months.

'I don't want it pushed out too long. It's a matter of getting the submission form online and in the council office. We can't have a Boaty McBoat Face name on it! Suitable names will be brought before ourselves.'

Ms Mulholland agreed, saying the sooner the bridge is named the sooner it can get publicity across the world.

New Ross Standard