Minister meets with Irish Rail to discuss promised Level Crossing Removals

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Betty Houlighan , Cllr. Gerald Mitchell, Maureen Drake with Minister Patrick O’Donovan TD at the Fantstown crossing this week.

LOCAL Fine Gael TD and Minister, Patrick O’Donovan has said that Irish Rail must listen to the concerns of the people when removing the railway level crossings in South Limerick.

He was speaking after a meeting he arranged between Irish Rail and representatives of residents in Effin. The residents had contacted Minister O’Donovan to express their worry and anxiety, over the proposals that Irish Rail had made for the replacement for the level crossing under the proposed Railway Order to An Bord Pleanála, and the difficulties it would pose for their community.

Speaking after the meeting Minister Patrick O’Donovan said “We had a very constructive meeting with Irish Rail and representatives of residents in Effin, and afterwards I made a written submission myself to An Bord Pleanála. I know that the biggest concerns that relate to the removal of the Thomastown level crossing stem from concerns that the residents have in relation to road safety on the R515 Kilmallock to Charleville Road, and it is so important that the residents are listened to. These are the people who use the road daily, and their views are the most important.”

“I also made it very clear that in relation to the removal of other crossings, and this would include Fantstown and others, Irish Rail must listen to, and respect the local community. The railway has been there for the best part of two hundred years, through the Great Southern and Western Railway, CIÉ and now Irish Rail and in that time these crossings have been part of these communities. These communities throughout their relationship with the railway have asked for very little, so asking for this now, is the least Irish Rail could give back after so long. These are a one hundred year investments and they should be made.”

Patrick O’Donovan said he believed that the engagement with Irish Rail was very positive and he felt that the residents who engaged with him felt the same. He acknowledged his colleagues Councillors Gerald Mitchell and John Egan for their local work on the issue, and for the local community activists that had made contact with him as the local TD.

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“An Bord Pleanála will make the final decision here, however it is important that both Irish Rail and Limerick City and County Council know the feelings of the locals in this part of South Limerick. For long enough these crossings have essentially divided areas and we want to make sure that their removal is done in a way that brings people together.”

“My grandparents were level crossing keepers so I know a bit about railways, so I am anxious that Irish Rail do the right thing here in this area, that they listen to the locals, that they understand the views of people like myself and that they make this one off investment. In the scale of things, the size of the investment here that I am calling for, from Irish Rail, is miniscule from their overall budget. It is the right thing to do, and I believe after our meeting that they know this as well.”