By Paul O’Malley
Overgrown briars and hedges on the N26 are turning its junctions into “death traps”, local councillors have claimed.
The members of Ballina Municipal District made their comments at the council’s monthly meeting when they called for urgent remedial work to be carried out on the hedges along the main entrance road to Ballina from Dublin.
Cllr John O’Hara said he has received a number of calls about the state of hedges on the Foxford Road and other roads in the area such as Church Road.
“Not starting the verge-trimming until September is wrong. Under the grounds of health and safety, we should be making our roads safer. There is a real urgency to get this work started as soon as possible,” he said.
Cllr Annie-May Reape said the current legislation needs to be changed because it is “hurting people”. She added that she recently visited Kilkenny and noted that all the hedges on its national roads had been trimmed.
Cllr Seamus Weir said it was a shame the council could not have tidied the N26 road ahead of the arrival of thousands of visitors to North Mayo for the recent Ballina Salmon Festival.
“Rehins as far down as Mount Falcon, all of those junctions are death traps. I would propose that when it comes to danger, we should be able to bypass the law on the hedge-cutting season.”
Director of services for the municipal district Tom Gilligan said the onus is on the council to protect biodiversity.
“It is incredibly important for biodiversity and protecting bird and plant life that the ban is in place for the season. There is an exception that can be made if there is a major hazard on a public road but Mayo has a road network of 6,600km and it is difficult to keep every single hedge in trim.”
Cllr Weir said: “Biodiversity shouldn’t overrule when there is a serious danger at our junctions. We should be ashamed of ourselves looking at the N26.”