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Councillor Joe Cooney, Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District.

Action needed on ‘disgraceful’ activities at 12 O’Clock Hills

An East Clare councillor has branded as “disgraceful and outrageous” the situation at The 12 O’Clock Hills in terms of illegal dumping and anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Joe Cooney made his comments at the recent meeting of the Killaloe Municipal District when he called for a barrier to be erected to address issues including fly-tipping, theft, bike-scrambling and other unauthorised and illegal activities in the area. The Fine Gael member proposed that the barrier might be put in place on the link road between at Torpey Hurleys and the R471 at Oatfield Church. He stressed that this would only be done after consultation with householders, landowners, The 12 O’Clock Hills committee and Coillte.

“There is a major issue with unlawful dumping and anti-social behaviour,” he said. “There’s a lot of concern over what’s going on at The 12 O’Clock Hills. A number of different groups have approached us and made an appeal to stop these illegal activities.”

Councillor Cooney outlined how an incident with livestock had happened recently, prompting considerable local annoyance. “A gate was left open and cattle got out onto the road,” he said. “This road links Oatfield to the Broadford, Sixmilebridge Road. Only tractors or large vehicles like jeeps are able to travel it.”

Councillor Cooney thanked Senior Executive Engineer (SEE) Niamh Madden for a written response to his motion. The reply outlined that the L-30101 is a local tertiary road that connects the L-3010 to the R471 at Oatfield. “While the Killaloe Municipal District has sympathy for anyone affected by antisocial behaviour,” the response said, “a public right of way exists over this public road and erecting a barrier on the road would require an extinguishment of this public right of way.”

Councillor Cooney asked Ms Madden for clarification on how the issue could be progressed. “We must make sure that there is consultation with local people, the Hills committee and Coillte,” he said.

Ms Madden explained the process for extinguishing a public right of way. “We must display our intention with a map for a period of one month,” she outlined. “We accept submissions from the public for two weeks after that and the public have the right to use the road until the Right of Way is extinguished.”

The motion was seconded by Councillor Alan O’Callaghan. “We have all become aware of the problems in the area,” he said. “The local committee took on the development of the walks, with Coillte, with a view to addressing the issues there. It is now a fabulous amenity. Dumping is still going on unfortunately and there are many issues, but they’re not as bad as they were. I’m not sure how a height barrier would work, but we need to see what can be done.”

Councillor Cooney thanked Ms Madden for explaining the process of closing the road to the public. “There is talk locally about how a locked barrier might work,” he said. “No through traffic would be allowed. We must be open to discussion with all road users. The Hills committee is looking for another car park, subject to consultation with Coillte. Consultation is the most important thing and we must look at doing what we can to bring to an end this disgraceful and outrageous dumping and other issues.”

Cathaoirleach, Councillor Pat Hayes asked Ms Madden to meet the Hills committee on the matter. “The area has become a great focus for a lot of issues that now need to be addressed,” he said.

Councillor Cooney also welcomed the news that the road between Torpey Hurleys in Belvoir and the carpark at The 12 O’Clock Hills is to have works done this year, under the Schedule of Municipal District Works.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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