Council proposes risk assessment on all future roadside memorials

Story by Tom Shiel

Wednesday, 13th March, 2019 6:12pm

Council proposes risk assessment on all future roadside memorials

MAYO County Council has published a draft policy on roadside memorials erected in close proximity to locations where fatal collisions have occurred.

The proposed policy will be put before the elected members of Mayo County Council for their consideration and adoption.

Tom Gilligan, Director of Services, told a meeting of the Roads and Transportation Special Policy Committee (SPC) today that the proposed policy, in general, will not affect existing memorials erected by members of the public.

However, Mr. Gilligan added, should an existing memorial become damaged or in need of replacement, the replacement memorial must comply with the policy.

Members of the family of 21-year-old Joe Deacy, who died in August 2017 after being found unconscious at Gortnasillagh, Swinford, were present as observers at this afternoon’s SPC meeting.

The family group included Joe Deacy’s father, Adrian. The Deacys have previously expressed disappointment over the council’s actions in removing two roadside memorials erected to their loved one and say they were given no notice they were to be dismantled.

Mr. Gilligan expressed his deepest sympathy on behalf of management of the council with the Deacy family on their tragic loss.

He emphasised that Mayo County Council recognises and respects the wish of the bereaved to mark roadside deaths by way of erecting a roadside memorial but added that the council is also charged with the duty of keeping the public highway safe for all road users.

In relation to the Joe Deacy memorials, Mr. Gilligan said, said there had been a number of complaints from members of the public that the memorials were “a visual distraction” and a hazard to road users.

Mr. Gilligan said it must be recognised that all roadside memorials have the potential to become a road user hazard and, accordingly, a site-specific risk assessment will be required to be carried out at all proposed locations.

The draft policy debars the erection of large permanent physical structures (such as monuments and shrines) along a carriageway and shall be removed on safety grounds.

Following today’s SPC session a private meeting, which was facilitated by Councillor Brendan Mulroy, cathaoirleach of the Roads and Transportation SPC, took place between the Deacy family representatives and members of the county council executive.

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