Bridge named ‘Rose Kennedy’ de­spite pub­lic pref­er­ence for ‘Pink Rock’

Meet­ing of coun­cil­lors set­tles name

New Ross Standard - - FRONT PAGE - By DAVID LOOBY

IRE­LAND’S long­est bridge has been called af­ter the mother of Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, af­ter coun­cil­lors voted by a small ma­jor­ity in favour of the name, de­spite the pub­lic vot­ing by ma­jor­ity for the Pink Rock name.

The vote was car­ried 8-6 at a meet­ing of New Ross and Pil­town dis­trict coun­cil­lors in Slieverue on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, four years af­ter the bridge nam­ing was first de­bated at New Ross Town Coun­cil.

Five of the six coun­cil­lors from the Pil­town Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict favoured the Pink Rock name, called af­ter the area the bridge reaches County Kilkenny: Pink Point.

In a six-week pub­lic sub­mis­sions process in May and June there were 142 valid sub­mis­sions from County Wex­ford res­i­dents and 47 dif­fer­ent names were sug­gested. 71 valid sub­mis­sions were re­ceived in Kilkenny, with 30 names pro­posed, Pink Rock be­ing the favourite by far.

Be­tween the two coun­ties 51 sub­mis­sions favoured the Pink Rock name and 28 favoured the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name.

Meet­ing chair­man Cllr Ger Frisby said: ‘An is­sue like this is al­ways go­ing to be di­vi­sive. The process has been fair and it has been trans­par­ent.’

IRE­LAND’S long­est bridge – which is cur­rently be­ing built near a town and area syn­ony­mous with many great men and women – has been called af­ter the mother of Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, af­ter coun­cil­lors voted by a small ma­jor­ity in favour of the name at a tense and emo­tion­ally charged meet­ing.

The vote was car­ried 8-6 at a meet­ing of New Ross and Pil­town mu­nic­i­pal dis­trict coun­cil­lors in Slieverue, on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, four years af­ter the bridge nam­ing was first de­bated at a meet­ing of New Ross Town Coun­cil.

The 15km New Ross By­pass dual car­riage­way cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion in­cludes the world’s long­est three tower ex­tra­dosed bridge, a type of ca­ble-stay struc­ture, span­ning the River Bar­row.

It will mea­sure 887m and stretch from Pink Point, County Kilkenny to Stokestown, County Wex­ford.

Five of the six coun­cil­lors from the Pil­town Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict favoured the Pink Rock name, called af­ter the area the bridge reaches County Kilkenny: Pink Point.

In a six-week pub­lic sub­mis­sions process in May and June there were 142 valid sub­mis­sions from County Wex­ford res­i­dents and 47 dif­fer­ent names were sug­gested. 71 valid sub­mis­sions were re­ceived in Kilkenny, with 30 names pro­posed, Pink Rock be­ing the favourite by far.

27 peo­ple made sub­mis­sions for the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name to New Ross Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict, fol­lowed by 17 for the Pink Rock Bridge and 16 for the Wil­liam Mar­shal Bridge. One per­son sug­gested the Michael D Hig­gins Bridge.

At the be­gin­ning of the meet­ing New Ross man Paddy Rochford ap­proached coun­cil of­fi­cials say­ing if the Kennedy name was pre­ferred it would be an em­bar­rass­ment to New Ross, (sug­gest­ing the town is too syn­ony­mous with the Kennedy fam­ily), threat­en­ing demon­stra­tions when­ever a mem­ber of the Kennedy fam­ily vis­its the town. When he left coun­cil­lors were shown a video show­ing the com­pli­cated en­gi­neer­ing pro­cesses in­volved in build­ing the bridge which will cross 300m of wa­ter. Two mil­lion man hours of work are go­ing in to the bridge and by­pass pro­ject.

Coun­cil­lors were told the Pink Rock area was cho­sen as the river nat­u­rally nar­rows at the area, mean­ing a shorter bridge was re­quired than else­where along the river. The Pink Rock rock out­crop also al­lowed the bridge to reach to 36 me­tres, pro­vid­ing am­ple space for boats pass­ing un­der­neath.

The ca­bles are 400mm in di­am­e­ter and went through two mil­lion cy­cles of test­ing in a Chicago lab­o­ra­tory over a three week pe­riod to en­sure they were strong enough. Di­rec­tor of Services with Kilkenny County Coun­cil Sean McKe­own said the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process was agreed by both coun­cils, adding that it con­cluded on June 13. Mr McKe­own said the sub­mis­sions process was heav­ily ad­ver­tised in paid for ads in the lo­cal me­dia and in sto­ries in the Kilkenny Peo­ple. 2,200 Kilkenny peo­ple who use the web­site con­sult.ie were no­ti­fied.

He said Pink Point is a lo­ca­tion recorded on the Ord­nance Sur­vey map of Ire­land, adding that it has been used for over 150 years. Mr McKe­own said a sub­com­mit­tee met twice and a short-list of ten names was drawn up and the name ul­ti­mately rec­om­mended was the Pink Rock Bridge.

Di­rec­tor of Services with Wex­ford County Coun­cil Ea­monn Hore said the sub­mis­sions process was widely pub­li­cised and three meth­ods of vot­ing were pro­vided. Mr Hore said: ‘Peo­ple could vote on­line, through email and they could send in hard copy sub­mis­sions to all pub­lic build­ings, in­clud­ing li­braries. The forms were avail­able at the Kil­lag Show. The process was high­lighted on the front page of the New Ross Stan­dard.’

He said New Ross has been wait­ing for the by­pass for 25 years and the bridge nam­ing was first dis­cussed at a meet­ing of New Ross Town Coun­cil on July 9, 2014. There were 151 sub­mis­sions in to­tal, in­clud­ing ten from County Wex­ford res­i­dents who made sub­mis­sions through Kilkenny County Coun­cil’s pub­lic sub­mis­sions process.

Mr Hore said a lot of ef­fort was put into the names and a short-list of five was ar­rived at. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name was agreed by a ma­jor­ity of 7-1 coun­cil­lors at a meet­ing of New Ross Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict coun­cil in early Septem­ber.

‘ The by­pass will have a defin­ing im­pact on the town of New Ross. It will be a cat­a­lyst for im­proved qual­ity of life and fu­ture pros­per­ity for the town and the re­gion,’ Mr Hore said.

He said by nam­ing the bridge af­ter Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy an eco­nomic, her­itage and his­toric ben­e­fit would ac­crue, adding that it is in the lo­cal­ity’s in­ter­est to have a name which res­onates in an in­ter­na­tional con­text.

‘ The new bridge will be unique in the world and a tourist at­trac­tion for the area,’ Mr Hore added.

He said: ‘While the en­tire N25 New Ross by­pass rep­re­sents an amaz­ing tech­ni­cal and con­struc­tion un­der­tak­ing, there can be lit­tle doubt that the mag­nif­i­cent bridge over the River Bar­row is the out­stand­ing tech­ni­cal achieve­ment in all of Ire­land in re­cent times and a tech­ni­cal achieve­ment of in­ter­na­tional stand­ing. We are 10 months out from the open­ing of the by­pass which will fun­da­men­tally change New Ross town.’

New Ross Cathaoir­leach Cllr John Flem­ing said he made a sub­mis­sion in favour of the name be­cause he has seen the eco­nomic ben­e­fit be­ing as­so­ci­ated with the Kennedys has had for New Ross, as high­lighted by the crowds at the Kennedy Sum­mer School.

‘Over the years tens of thou­sands of peo­ple have come to New Ross due to the Kennedy con­nec­tion. Hav­ing a proper name to pro­mote an area is the key. We owe this to the rate pay­ers, the res­tau­ra­teurs, cof­fee shop own­ers and gift shop own­ers hav­ing in­creased the rates. I want to see New Ross thrive and the bridge is a won­der­ful feat of en­gi­neer­ing. We had the long­est bridge in the re­gion in Wex­ford and now we have the long­est bridge in the coun­try.’

Cllr Michael Shee­han said he has never in his 20 years in pol­i­tics witnessed such a strong re­ac­tion as to that which fol­lowed a story in the New Ross Stan­dard high­light­ing how most coun­cil­lors favoured the Kennedy name. ‘We all want what is right for the area to pros­per on both sides of the bridge. I think we re­ally need to be care­ful about how we do this and we need to lis­ten to the pub­lic,’ sug­gest­ing coun­cil­lors had a moral obli­ga­tion to vot­ers who will be vot­ing for them in the next six months. ‘In six months time we’ll be go­ing around ask­ing the peo­ple to sup­port us in the same way we sup­ported them.’

Cllr Shee­han said peo­ple feel the process was er­ro­neous, un­friendly, non-in­clu­sive and un­fair. ‘ This morn­ing I got a call that there is a pe­ti­tion with 900 sig­na­tures call­ing for a new pub­lic vote to name the bridge. I think it would be un­fair of us to make a de­ci­sion to­day. No mat­ter what the opin­ions are I would hope the bul­ly­ing, ha­rass­ment and per­sonal, in­sults who­ever is send­ing them to head­quar­ters, will stop. Anony­mous ar­ti­cles are be­ing sent. I put my hand on the Bi­ble and say I think the process has been any­thing but fair.’

Cllr Whe­lan said a high rank­ing Fáilte Ire­land of­fi­cial told him the pre­vi­ous Satur­day night at the JFK Trust’s 30th an­niver­sary party that the Kennedys put New Ross on the map. ‘It (the con­nec­tion) has kept the area alive and what’s good for New Ross is good for south Kilkenny,’ Cllr Whe­lan said.

Cllr Oisin O’Con­nell said the Kennedys have a per­sonal con­nec­tion with New Ross, adding that there are cul­tural, her­itage and eco­nomic ties which favour the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name.

‘ The one name ap­plies not just to a woman, but to a mother as well.’

He ap­proved of the sub­mis­sions process used and in­vited Pil­town coun­cil­lors and Kilkenny County Coun­cil of­fi­cials to ad­vance a full ar­gu­ment for the Pink Rock name.

Cllr Wil­lie Fitzhar­ris said his main con­cern as a coun­cil­lor and mem­ber of the JFK Trust is how to get more money into New Ross. ‘We can only pick one name. There are a lot of cred­i­ble names. We have proven be­yond

THE KENNEDY NAME HAS KEPT THE AREA ALIVE AND WHAT’S GOOD FOR NEW ROSS IS GOOD FOR SOUTH KILKENNY

all doubt that the Kennedy name is good for New Ross with­out a shadow of a doubt. I think there was a very open and good process.

‘I sus­pect a lot of peo­ple who are talk­ing didn’t bother to fill out the form.’

Cllr Larry O’Brien said peo­ple had six weeks to put for­ward their sug­ges­tion. ‘If you ask peo­ple in two years time they won’t know the name of the bridge.

‘If the peo­ple who are now ob­ject­ing com­mit­ted their time to im­prov­ing New Ross in other ways they would be a lot bet­ter off. I think it couldn’t have been any fairer. The war was lost; the name was picked and the peo­ple chose it, so let’s ac­cept it lads.’

In­de­pen­dent Cllr Melissa O’Neill, from Pil­town Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict, was the sole voice in favour of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name from her dis­trict.

She said she felt the Pink Rock name was more of a ge­o­graph­i­cal name, un­like the name of a per­son who is a sym­bol of strength for women in­ter­na­tion­ally. Cllr O’Neill said Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy rep­re­sents her­itage, adding that the Kennedy name has brought a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fit to her na­tive Bruff in County Lim­er­ick and to New Ross.

‘For me it’s not a bridge for Wex­ford or Kilkenny, as the long­est bridge in Ire­land it’s a bridge for all of Ire­land. There were 900 on a pe­ti­tion. Why didn’t these peo­ple go and make a sub­mis­sion?’

Cllr Fidelis Do­herty said the Kennedy name has been ‘well honoured’ in New Ross. ‘I re­ally feel strongly about this. The bridge comes into the Pink Rock. It’s not about winning or not winning. There is no win­ner in this. It’s a bridge that will bring huge ad­van­tages to the area.’

Cllr Do­herty said she has di­rect con­nec­tions with the Kennedys through her hus­band but feels the Kennedy name is well re­spected and en­dorsed in New Ross. ‘ This is our op­por­tu­nity as elected mem­bers to rep­re­sent the area. Can we think of some­thing other than the Kennedy name. It’s a re­ally mo­men­tous thing: I know there are big­ger is­sues.’

Cllr Pat Dun­phy asked for the num­bers in favour of the Pink Rock bridge name to be added up be­tween both mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils and for the same to be done with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name to see which won the pop­u­lar vote. 51 favoured the Pink Rock name and 28 favoured the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name.

He said: ‘ New Ross is very well served by the Kennedy name. You wouldn’t have to ask any­one within 100 miles of New Ross about the eco­nomic ben­e­fit, but maybe it’s time for an­other name.’

Meet­ing chair­man Cllr Ger Frisby said: ‘ An is­sue like this is al­ways go­ing to be di­vi­sive. The process has been fair and it has been trans­par­ent. We are in a sit­u­a­tion where we have two names and both have merit.’

He called for a roll-call and the fol­low­ing coun­cil­lors voted in favour of the Kennedy name: Cllr An­thony Con­nick, Cllr Wil­lie Fitzhar­ris, Cllr John Flem­ing, Cllr Martin Mur­phy, Cllr Larry O’Brien, Cllr Oisin O’Con­nell, Cllr Melissa O’Neill and Cllr Michael Whe­lan.

Cllr Ea­mon Ayl­ward, Cllr Sean Breath­nach, Cllr Pat Dun­phy, Cllr Ger Frisby, Cllr Melissa O’Neill and Cllr Michael Shee­han voted in favour of the Pink Rock name.

‘ The vote is taken and it will go for­ward for rat­i­fi­ca­tion,’ Cllr Frisby said.

Cllr O’Neill called for a round of ap­plause for the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy name which its eight back­ers and some of­fi­cials joined in on.

Artist’s im­pres­sion of what the com­pleted Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge is ex­pected to look like.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.