The news that the Athlone Boundary Review Committee recommended no change to the Roscommon County Boundary was been widely welcomed yesterday however, on further analysis, the issue is far from over.
As with most things in life Terms and Conditions apply and the Athlone Boundary Review Committee recommendation is no different.
The main message from the 49 page report is for Roscommon County Council and Westmeath County Council to work together for a better Athlone-Monksland/Bellanamullia (as they refer to the area throughout the document).
Among the Terms and Conditions are that the two Councils prepare the following:
– A Joint Retail Strategy, within 18 months
– A Joint Local Area Plan, within 24 months
– A Service Delivery Analysis and Plan, within 9 months
– Implementation of Service Delivery Changes, within 3 years
They also have to submit a Joint Implementation Plan to the Minister within 6 months and joint Annual Reports on the progression of the plan. The next recommendation “keeps the door open” for a possible boundary change in the future. The report states that “In the event of substantial non completion of the above four tasks within a four-year period, it is the view of this Committee that the boundary be extended in order to achieve coherent sustainable development for Athlone.”
Note that it says four years – this is because “It recognises that unforeseen circumstances may delay such processes.” We have seen over the past eight months (the report was originally meant to be handed over to the Minister by March 31st) that “unforeseen circumstances” happen all the time, even when all parties are pulling in the . Could it now be in some people’s interest to slow down the completion of the four tasks in order to achieve the original objective?
Senator Frank Feighan – “A great day for Roscommon”
Michael Fitzmaurice TD – Athlone Boundary issue “Not Dead and Buried Yet”
Eugene Murphy TD – Athlone Boundary change has not been written off completely
Senator Maura Hopkins – Athlone Boundary Review “did not close the door”