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Clarity On Rollout Of Tipperary Broadband – M. Lowry TD

Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry gets clarification from Minister Richard Bruton TD, regarding the rollout of Broadband here in Co. Tipperary.


Speaking recently in the Dáil Éireann on the rollout of Broadband here in Co. Tipperary, Deputy Michael Lowry questioned Mr Richard Bruton, TD (Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment) asking that if, in light of the looming economic recession and massive expected deficit; the National Broadband Plan would proceed within the timeline announced in November last; notwithstanding the delays caused by the pandemic. He also asked the Minister to provide a current update on what progress had been made and the timescale involved for final completion.

In response to Deputy Lowry, the Minister stated “Within Tipperary the first exchange buildings have been surveyed and the relevant electronic equipment, from Nokia, has been ordered for delivery later this year.
National Broadband Ireland’s (NBI) site surveys are due to be initiated in the coming weeks. Once the surveys and detailed designs are completed the deployment of fibre can then be scheduled.

To support remote working and connected communities, approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) were identified by Local Authorities to be connected to high speed broadband this year, including 8 in Tipperary. This will assist communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband in advance of the main NBP deployment”.

Deputy Lowry recalled that previously in Dáil Éireann, the outgoing Government signed off on a €3billion National Broadband plan towards the end of November last. It was heralded correctly as the biggest ever investment in rural Ireland and the most significant since the rural electrification scheme, and the provision of a high-speed service to some 1.1million people across half a million homes, farms and businesses, same located largely in rural Ireland.

Just four months later we found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic that ground our country to a standstill. Life changed completely in the matter of a few short days. Offices and businesses closed across the country and those that could do so, were asked to work from home. Students left their desks and their education continued via online classes and electronically submitted homework. That is, of course, if you lived in an area where you had dependable internet and a reasonable broadband connection.
Never before was the need for reliable broadband in rural Ireland been more necessary
,” stated Deputy Lowry.

Mr Lowry further stated, “I have come across cases where people were unable to work from home and where students could neither receive or submit assignments. This issue is further compounded in areas of Tipperary where high speed broadband has been introduced but blackspots remain.” [Mr Lowry was referring to areas where the majority of properties have access to broadband, but just a few homes or businesses within the very same vicinity, receive little or no signal.]

“As recently as this morning I was contacted by a farmer who is living in an area of Co. Tipperary currently covered by a fibre broadband network. For over 12 months his closest neighbours have had access to a high-speed connection and while the actual fibre cable passes this farm entrance gates, he has been told that his connection cannot be completed as his property, like many traditional rural farm settlements is approximately 400 metres from the main road. He has been informed that it is not commercially viable to provide him with a connection at this time and he will have to wait to be connected under State Intervention through the National Broadband Plan,” Mr Lowry continued.

Mr Lowry concluded that while he knows that these are exceptional times. Such times conjures up a future glimpse of what the long-term future of living with Covid-19 could be like, with much of rural Ireland incapable of catering for these changes. “Simply”, he stated “high speed broadband is not and never has been a luxury for rural Ireland; it continues in fact to remain a measure of necessity.”

In his response, Minister Bruton stated that for the 29,647 premises within the intervention area within Co. Tipperary, to be served by the National Broadband Plan, there are a number of stages required within each deployment area. In order to roll out the new high speed broadband network, this would include (A) survey work to an informed and detailed design; (B) repair; (C) the making ready of activities conducted by Eir; (D) ensure poles are fit for purpose; (E) installation of electronic equipment to each exchange building; (F) development of IT systems within NBI to allow operators place orders; (G) scheduling of connections; (H) physical laying of fibre along poles and through prepared ducts, and finally, (I) upon receipt of an order from any future customer, to activate the final connection to the required premises.

NBI have mobilised their staff and contractors and are ramping up their capacity to deliver the project and to date 22,000 premises have been surveyed throughout Ireland.

While such activities are underway, all homes passed, will be able to receive a connection from NBI before the end of this year.

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Thurles On-Street Pay Parking Required From Tomorrow, Monday June 8th

Local Councillor Mr Sean Ryan.

According to the Thurles Municipal District Council’s Twitter account [TipperaryCoCo@ThurlesMD], on-street pay parking requirements will resume in the towns of Thurles, Templemore and Roscrea from tomorrow, Monday, June 8th 2020.

Parking bye laws, which have totally destroyed every single business; both big and small, in Thurles town centre have remained in ‘token place’ in recent months. However these bye laws have not been enforced by traffic wardens; latter who rightly vanished into isolation; cocooning since our caretaker government’s Covid-19 virus restrictions were introduced back in March.

However do take note, Thurles Municipal District have confirmed that full enforcement of pay parking in car parks will NOT resume until Monday July 20th, 2020.
This statement was announced on Twitter on the morning of June 5th last

Previously, it had been further confirmed by Tipperary County Council’s Mr Marcus O’Connor (Director of Services for Roads), who stated “We will only be enforcing it on the streets and people will be able to park in the car parks for free, until Monday 20th July 2020.”

With regard to other matters raised with our elected Councillors; [View HERE (Thurles Heritage In Grave Danger) and HERE (What Future For 1798 Memorial In Liberty Square Thurles?)], silence continues to reign.

In relation to the 1798 Memorial issue we discussed, one would have expected at least a firm “Tiocfaidh ár lá” (Irish -“Our day will come”) from local Irish republican supporters, who before the last 2019 local elections, were to be found laying wreaths at the foot of this same “Stone Man“. No, not a word, not even an “Up the Ra” from Waterford TD David Cullinane.

There were no protests by the public on Liberty Square either, reminissent of the An Post protest, organised by Thurles Chamber, when the former decided to leave Liberty Square. Such a pity as same would have granted some local Councillors that inevitable cynical photo opportunity, to be loaded onto their social media platforms.

Of course this ‘Stone Man’ could fit nicely on top of the Roundabout at Thurles Shopping Centre, joining its old friend An Post once again; you know the circular intersection I mean, that costly ornamental pile of stones offering no practical purpose and referred to as “The Thurles Town Folly”, which successfully blocks the vision of every travelling motorist.

Who did actually acknowledge the “Double Ditch” issues aforementioned :-

Ms Josepha Madigan, TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Ms Emily Beedham, (LUC) Thurles Renewal Strategy project.
Ms Louise Croughan, Minister Madigan’s Office.
Thurles local elected Councillor Mr Sean Ryan, Littleton, Thurles, (latter pictured above), the only elected member of the Thurles Municipal District Council to reply.

Nothing from TD’s and the County Manager. ✘

But of course the local elections are over since early 2019 and that €17,000 minimum annual income, earned by municipal district Councillors, remains relatively safe in these uncertain times; until sometime in early 2024 at least, God willing.

One hopes now that there will be no sudden rush by those other Thurles elected representatives, latter unable to read their emails, offering us conference calls on Zoom, wearing only a shirt and skimpy underpants, while scratching themselves; following in the new trend set by Ming ‘The trourserless’.

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Limerick University Recommend Refunds For Student Accommodation

Michael Lowry TD

The University of Limerick’s Governing Authority has recommended the refund of student in-house accommodation fees.

Tipperary Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry, has received confirmation that the Governing Authority of the University of Limerick (UL) has today recommended the issuing of refunds for all students availing of rented accommodation on the UL campus.

Deputy Lowry, who had first raised this matter of fairness with UL in late March 2020, in his representations to Limerick University, had stated that students and their parents, from his constituency had contacted him to state that the University is the only educational facility in Ireland that is not offering refunds to students relating to their on-campus accommodation.

Mr Lowry had stated back then publicly, that be believed that all students should be refunded, ‘as a matter of principle and good faith’.

Mr Lowry stated that would like to see privately owned student accommodation providers follow in similar vein; also coming to an arrangement with students, in light of the closure of third level institutes back in mid-March.

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Thurles Heritage In Grave Danger

“Our heritage is about our past, our present and our future and contributes greatly to the quality of life in our urban and rural communities. It is shared by all and is fully inclusive. Interaction with our heritage not only provides physical and mental health benefits, but contributes to overall well-being, while biodiversity is an essential component in the functioning of our environment.” – Signed Mr Joe MacGrath (Chief Executive, Tipperary County Council).

As we stated recently, (May 18th, 2020), work has now begun on a new local authority housing development, consisting of some 28 houses on the east side of Thurles in an area locally known as Mill Road. In the early 19th century the area was known as Manor Mill Road.

While this development is to be truly welcomed; this newest construction site is taking shape close to an area of heritage possibly the only one of its kind in Ireland, the Great Famine “Double Ditch”.

Entrance to ‘Double Ditch’ previously destroyed by Tipperary County Council employed contractors.
Photo G. Willoughby.

Lest you forget, first read all about the Great Famine “Double Ditch” HERE in a previous publication.

We previously wrote about this area, here on Thurles.Info in October of 2019; aware of Tipperary Co. Council’s proposals to develop this property close to this heritage site of national importance.

Tipperary Co. Council sadly, in their lack of knowledge, refer to this area as the Mill Road Walkway on current signage. It is not and never has been the Mill Road Walkway; its name is The Double Ditch and must now; with developers moving into place, be fully protected and returned to its original state.

We have been in contact (November 12th, 2019) with Ms Róisín O’Grady, (Heritage Officer with Tipperary County Council, Ballingarrane House, Cahir road, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary), whom we have met and remained in contact with via email up until late February 2020. But alas, the Covid-19 pandemic broke loose, bringing everything to a standstill.

Why should the town of Thurles worry regarding the further destruction of this historical asset?

This 174 year-old-old famine project and pedestrian Mass Path has had its Mill Road entrance previously destroyed by the very contractor employed by Tipperary Co. Council, involved in erecting fencing and a short concrete footpath fronting on this latest housing project. Back then Tipperary engineers conveniently turned a blind eye before signing off on this project. They have also turned a blind eye to the erection of posts and barbed wire on this public-right-of-way and have permitted the area to become a graveyard for supermarket trollies, toys and domestic furnishings.

Despite raising this issue in October 2019, no effort whatsoever has been made by Tipperary Co. Council or local public representatives to have this area cleaned up, except to remove their own embarrassing, dumped signage.

Yesterday, again I walk this neglected historic pathway, noting the collection of abandoned supermarket trolleys have now increased three-fold and the numerous, offensive, new poles / stakes holding up even more offencive barbed wire have been removed, possibly for firewood over last winter.

Our wish then and now is to highlight the historic importance of this area to Thurles business and tourism sectors and to prevent same from being destroyed by (A) further development; (B) those owning adjoining land and (C) those responsible for ‘Fly Tipping’.

Sadly the history of this area has been conveniently forgotten; lost in the mists of time to the memory of local residents and could in the near future be totally destroyed; lost to any future town tourism.

I defy any resident of the Irish state to identify any other such similar project undertaken during this sad period of our Irish history 1845 – 1849.

This area, back in April 1846 was the focus of development then, mainly by the business people of Liberty Square together with the clergy of Thurles; both Roman Catholic and Protestant, in an effort to put money into the pockets of starving paupers, thus ensuring that stomachs remained at least partially filled.

This event had followed the loss of the potato crop in the autumn of 1845, commemorated in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin city centre recently, and referred to in the history books as “The Great Famine”. (Irish: an Gorta Mór).

Somehow, no one has realised that this year, 2020, is the 175 anniversary of the start of that tragic historic event.

We here at Thurles.Info have now begun the tedious process of digitizing all hand written documentation affecting Thurles and the Great Famine; same material which describes the real facts surrounding this period, which include details of the initial plans for this Double Ditch.

These same details are being currently formatted and are published HERE (See page 6 Re Double Ditch) on our sister website Hidden Tipperary.com, for the benefit of our large viewing public, both here at home and abroad.

A copy of this statement has been forwarded to the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Ms Josepha Madigan; Chief Executive Tipperary Co. Council, Mr Joseph MacGrath; all Councillors elected to represent the Thurles Municipal District and Thurles politicians.

Funding must immediately be put in place to protect and restore this area, in association with the current housing development.

We will be happy to meet with anyone who requires further clarification on this area of national importance.

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Restart Grants For Small Businesses

Dáil Éireann

Direct financial government aid of between €2,000 minimum and €10,000, based on 2019 commercial rates invoice.

This scheme anounced and published on Friday,15th May, 2020, applies to small businesses with a turnover of under €5m and employing less than 50 employees.
The Scheme will open for applications this month, on Friday 22nd May, through Local Authorities, or in the case of Co. Tipperary, Tipperary County Council.

The Government on Friday agreed details of this new €250m ‘Restart Grant’, which will give direct aid to micro and small businesses to help them with the costs associated with re-opening and re-employing workers, following necessary COVID-19 closures.

As already stated this ‘Restart Grant’ aid will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing less than 50 people which either closed or was impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover, assessed to June 30th 2020.

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