Irish Rail in court challenge over bridges of Clare County

Council puts 19 bridges on Limerick-Ennis line on list of protected structures

Iarnród Éireann has brought a legal challenge to Clare County Council over its decision to include 19 rail bridges on a list of protected structures.

The railway operator has said the decision may mean it will have to seek planning permission for works on county bridges on the Limerick-Ennis line. This could ultimately mean the closure of the entire line for a time, Stephen Dodd BL, for Iarnród Éireann, told the High Court.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan gave Mr Dodd leave to seek judicial review of the council's recent decision to add the 19 bridges to the list. The leave application was made on an ex parte, one-side-only represented, basis.

Mr Dodd said the 19 bridges are among 1,367 bridges maintained by Iarnród Éireann. All 19 are operational. Three other bridges in the county, which are also on the protected structures list, are on a disused line.


The company had argued there were no unusual or special features to the bridges which that permit their designation as protected structures under planning legislation.

The chief executive of the council, Pat Dowling, decided otherwise and recommended their designation to councillors, who adopted it under county development plan for 2017-2023.

Mr Dodd said that recommendation appeared to be largely based on a “haphazard” survey of the bridges with inadequate research carried out.

The judge said the case could come back to court in May.