— Cycling supporters say “projects are to enable our kids to get to school safely”.
— Group questions how yet-to-be installed cycle lanes can be killing businesses
Kildare councillor, Darren Scully, who made national headlines and resigned as Mayor of Naas after saying he would not represent “immigrants coming from African countries”, is now taking up the challenge of opposing cycle routes in the centre of Naas.
The Fine Gael councillor apologised for his comments and, in 2012, told he the Journal.ie that “I paid a price, it would have been nice to have been given a second chance and told to learn from that mistake.”But then in 2015 he was involved in another controversy when he criticised the family of a drowned Syrian boy, and Young Fine Gael called on him to resign his membership of the party.
The Irish Examiner reported that he defended his attack on the dead boy’s family by saying an article had not included details of the boy’s father living and working in Turkey, and that he blamed the boy’s death on EU policy and Angela Merkel.
According to a number of sources, including a leinsterleader.ie article, Cllr Scully told a meeting of Naas businesses and residents on Friday night that he would fight against a soon-to-be constructed project to part-pedestrianise Poplar Square and a cycle route on the Dublin Road, which he said could still be reversed and he said he would oppose the cycle route planned for Kilcullen Road in the town.
While cycle routes have yet to be built in Naas, the Leinster Leader last week quoted Mary Burke Spratt, of the Naas Against Authority Sabotage group, as stating: “…it makes me angry to see what is happening. Last week [a shop owned by] Ciaran Mattimoe closed down and Goulding’s and Swan’s are concerned about cycle lanes. I walked the town and I saw just one bicycle parked at a cycle rack so I wonder if there is a need for cycle lanes.”
In a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, the Naas Neighborhood Greenway group said: “Was at a Naas traders meeting last night organised by concerned people of Naas. We too are concerned that shops are closing and footfall is decreasing in the town. There was an unreasonable criticism of the projects that are due to be constructed.”
It added: “Blaming cycle lanes for the demise of shopping in Naas is not fair as there are no cycle lanes in the town at the moment so how can they be killing business. Why not give them a go and see where it takes us. We must remember that these projects are to enable our kids to get to school safely.”
“Meeting was very negative and gave no solutions and wouldn’t listen to anyone with an alternative view. Tackle clamping in private car parks . Put in pay by text. Get rid of free parking on a Saturday. Open the town [shopping centre]. Saying no no no to progress will achieve nothing and kill our town.”
The Leinster Leader reported on their website that “the voice of people power was heard loud and clear”, but a number of people commenting on the post by Naas Neighborhood Greenway contradicts this. One said: ” I was at the meeting and heard you speak. I thought your words were balanced and the tone of the meeting prevented me from speaking up.”
While a second comment said: “I cycle and drive. I also live on the Kilcullen Road and work on the Fairgreen. I am totally in favour of installing cycle lanes through the town. A compromise can be met to benefit both sides, but the current campaign to halt this cycle infrastructure is very misleading. Most people think ALL the parking is going to be removed, which is not true.”
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Some members of the public who support the Naas Neighborhood Greenway group also disputed the idea that a lack of parking was the reason for businesses closing — they highlighted reasons including out-of-town shopping centre, disputes between businesses and their landlords, and problems with free parking on Saturdays aimed at shoppers but abused by commuters and others who overstay the allowed time.