THE National Roads Authority (NRA) has been accused of discriminating against the Banner, taking down signs supporting Clare along the M18, with a zeal that isn’t shown in other counties.
While the towns and villages of Clare are covered in saffron and blue, signs supporting the Banner have been taken away from the M18 and Councillor Patricia McCarthy objected to it at this week’s meeting of Shannon Electoral Area. “It was disheartening over the last couple of weeks to see signs disappearing,” she said.
The independent councillor said the signs in question hadn’t even been causing issues. “There are certain events and times when a bit of leniency is expected,” she added.
Fine Gael Councillor John Crowe said signs advertising local events are being “whipped away overnight”.
Councillor PJ Ryan said he is of the same mind as Councillor McCarthy and that “a bit of leniency would do no harm”. Workers are now spending up to three hours a day taking down signs, he added.
“It’s bad enough having the ref making bad decisions but now they’re collecting our signs too,” Newmarket Councillor Pat McMahon joked.
He said there is an “unwritten rule” that people take down their own signs after their relevance is gone and he said a small bit of common sense would go a long way.
Independent Councillor Gerry Flynn proposed writing to the NRA asking that “all saffron and blue signs that are not a health and safety risk be let up”.
He said he was “alarmed” that the NRA are taking such an approach and that the council now needs “to kick ass” on the issue. “I hope our teams do that as well,” he added.
The council’s senior executive engineer, Eugene O’Shea, said the thinking is that signs blowing off bridges can cause accidents and if they are close to junctions, they can block sightlines.
Councillor McCarthy said everyone accepts there is a safety issue and that anyone putting up a sign should make sure it is safe and secure.
She claimed Clare is getting treated differently to other places. “In Dublin they’re not as quick at taking them down. When they come into Clare something comes over them and they can see nothing but to take them down,” she thundered.
“As Davy says, we’re only the small fish,” Councillor Crowe quipped.
Summing up, Councillor McCarthy said a blanket ban on signs would only make Ireland more bland and would diminish identity further.
However, an NRA spokesman insisted there is no anti-Clare policy. “There is no distinction between counties whatsoever. Signs are a potential hazard. If they are displaced, they could blow onto the roadway and kill someone.”
He said the NRA have had complaints from other counties about the issue too, showing that the organisation isn’t hell-bent on being severe on Clare.