Bridge may get Redmond's name

 

A Fianna Fáil Minister will consider naming a new bridge in Waterford city after a Fine Gael hero.

The former Taoiseach Mr John Bruton appealed to the Minister for the Environment, Mr Cullen, to name the bridge after John Redmond.

Mr Bruton asked the Minister to put Redmond's name on the bridge as it had been on a previous one in the city. The Fine Gael TD made the request as the Minister pushed a technical Bill through the Dáil to allow for the construction of the bridge as part of the N25 city bypass.

A spokesman for the Minister said at the weekend that such decisions were usually a matter for the local council, but John Redmond would be "in the mix" as a possible name, with other suggestions.

One humorous possibility put forward was "Cu Cullen", after the Minister who would have responsibility for its construction, 30 years after it was first mooted.

The Minister confirmed that the bridge would be tolled, but rejected Opposition concern about the tolls, pointing out during the debate that the first bridge built in 1793 across the Suir in Waterford and dubbed "Old Timber Toes" was tolled until 1913.

Making his case for naming the bridge, Mr Bruton said it was ironic that John Redmond was "commemorated by a bust in Westminster, although he is not commemorated here [in the Dáil\] in the assembly he did so much to bring about by peaceful means".

Mr Bruton, TD for Meath and "proud to call myself a Redmondite", said his hero had been one of the most influential figures in politics in northern Europe and that Home Rule had been placed on the British statute book by Redmond.

It would be wrong, he said, "not to take this opportunity of ensuring that the contribution to public life of this great Irish patriot and man of peace is commemorated in the city he served so well".

A previous bridge named after John Redmond had been replaced, and the city council majority "in what I would regard as a small-minded approach, withdrew the name of John Redmond from the bridge and replaced it with somebody [Ignatius Rice] so uncontroversial that nobody would complain," he said.

Mr Cullen pointed out that the average daily traffic flow across Rice Bridge was 36,500 vehicles, and 40,000 was a regular occurrence. The objective was to provide a Waterford city bypass for through traffic while catering for the needs of the city. The planned scheme extends from west of Kilmeaden in Co Waterford to east of Slieverue in Co Kilkenny.

It involves 23km of all-purpose dual carriageway, about 4km of single carriageway and a further 11km of side roads and tie-ins.

The Suir bridge element, to which the legislation relates, is about 475 metres long. The Bill will reinstate as a "transitional" measure a provision of the 1946 Local Government Act, necessary for the bridge to ahead.

The Wexford Independent TD Dr Liam Twomey expressed concern that tolling the bridge would make the New Ross rush-hour traffic bottleneck even worse and people would be disinclined to use it.

Mr Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin of Sinn Féin said that, by imposing a toll, a further bottleneck would be created at the toll plaza.

As for the naming of the bridge, another local deputy, Mr Brian O'Shea of Labour, said he had no recollection of Waterford people being ashamed of John Redmond, but this was not the time to get involved in a long debate about naming it. They should build it first.