Dedication Agreement could allow Bruree folk to access public area ‘taken from them’

Serious concerns have been raised over the safety of residents and motorists in a picturesque rural Irish village in Co. Limerick. Villagers are also desperate to get back some valuable public space that they used for parking, etc., and which was recently fenced off by a new landowner to the area. They are adamant this public space “was taken away from us” and they want it back.

Meanwhile, residents in Bruree say that road and streetscape works being carried out by Limerick City and County Council have now “turned people away from coming into the village”, while others point to the narrowing of the road on the north side of the area and fear it “is an accident waiting to happen”.

Pat Coleman lives in a housing estate just off the main street and he pointed to “large volumes of traffic” passing through the village every day.

He also highlighted how difficult it has become for residents to get out onto the main street – not just as a result of the traffic but also because of added dangers that have arisen from the road and streetscape works that are being carried out by the local authority.

Vehicles from the Kilmallock side of Bruree are forced to travel in the centre of the road

“The amount of traffic passing through this village is unreal – I live in an estate just off the main street here; because of these roadworks, and what the council has actually done to the road here, trying to get out of my estate and onto the road has become impossible,” he added.

“It has become very dangerous for me to turn either left or right and that is because the council has narrowed the road. They narrowed the road from 220 inches to 80 inches. That is going by the white line that is there at the moment – even though the engineer is claiming that that is not the centre of the road.”

‘Out of favour’

Meanwhile, Coleman says that it was the local authority that placed the white line in the centre of the road in the first instance and he highlighted how its engineer is now claiming that the centre of the road is further in.

If they are going to change the centre of the road – and my feeling is that the local authority here is about to do that – I want to know if that is allowed.

He continued: “The council is also putting in kerbing across the road – this is making the road smaller and cars that are coming in from the Kilmallock side are over that white line all the time – it’s too narrow.”

He then pointed to private works that were carried out by the new landowner of the old railway house and associated land. The landowner installed railings and large iron gates along the property’s perimeter wall in the centre of the village and, as a result, a large public space – used for car parking by residents and visitors – was removed.

Coleman says that now the local authority has installed a new footpath in the vicinity “especially for the landowner” and he and others who live in the village are “not one bit happy” about this.

A new footpath is being installed at the entrance to the old railway house in Bruree

“The kerbing was put there to make a footpath in an area where there was never a footpath. But what I also don’t understand is – if the council wants to have a footpath all the way through, why wasn’t the footpath continuous?

In front of any private resident – both in this village and indeed in any other town or village in the country – a continuous footpath will go past the residence in a straight line with a ramp on it for the owner or residents.

Coleman added: “But in this case in Bruree the council decided to bring the footpath along for a certain distance and then turn it into this landowner’s gateway – and this was done on both sides; it’s like as if the footpath belongs to the landowner there.”

‘No consultation with the people’

Cllr. Gerald Mitchell, meanwhile, the local area representative for Bruree, pointed to the “suddenness” of Limerick City and County Council’s works in the village.

“I suppose one of the questions I’d be asking here is why all of a sudden was this structure erected? Was the landowner trying to secure his title? Was it agreed with certain parties and if so has the planning in this instance adhered to the proper regulations and rules?” he asked.

“Before all of this happened this was a public area that was accessed through our recycling centre. And because it was a public area – used as a public area for 44 years – the public should have been consulted about matters.

Josephine McDonnell, Pat Coleman, Cllr. Gerald Mitchell, Brendan O’Regan and Noel Brosna at the railings installed by the new landowner in Bruree

“We have asked that this particular matter go to the council of precedence which has already indicated that in circumstances such as this the public can sign what’s known as a ‘Dedication Agreement’ which allows it to use the space and be covered by insurance, etc.

“As Pat has already alluded to: Why weren’t the people of the parish consulted in relation to this?

If the council has decided to put in kerbing for footpaths then that narrows the road, and that in turn causes safety issues for pedestrians, the people living in the village and for motorists going through the village.

“The big question, however, is why this structure was built so quickly in the first instance and without – what appears to be – proper adherence to planning procedures.”