‘People need to think before they type!’ on social media
An independent county councillor has hit out at comments he described as “vitriol” posted on social media in relation to the removal of old Lime trees on a site behind a stone wall in Virginia close to the bridge.
The removal of the trees earlier this year sparked a heated debate online and during the virtual meeting of the Ballyjamesduff Municipal District last week when Cllr T.P. O'Reilly (FG) requested clarity on the issue.
But if was Mullagh's Shane P. O'Reilly who said he was “shocked” by some of the “reprehensible” remarks directed at elected representatives and Cavan County Council staff following the removal of the trees that experts considered at risk of falling.
Executive engineer, John McGahern, confirmed to the elected representatives on the Microsoft Teams meeting that, following planning approval, the realignment of the footpath and moving back of an existing wall will commence shortly. He also took the opportunity to clearly set out the Council’s reasons for the removal of the trees in question.
Mr McGahern pointed out that the existing footpath is narrow and stones from the old stone wall are falling onto the footpath.
“On the right hand side you have a long steel railing, that has been hit twice in the last 18 months. When it gets hit, it folds in because it is on the inside of a bend. That footpath is used a lot, particularly by school children."
The engineer went on to point out: "The existing set-up there is not safe. Our Road Design Office commissioned a report on the condition of the wall in 2020 and that re-affirmed that the existing wall and the trees that were immediately behind the wall and growing into the wall were a hazard to the public.”
Mr McGahern further clarified that, in early 2021, the private landowner dedicated the necessary ground to facilitate the set back of the wall. The local authority did not purchase the ground.
"Enabling works consisting of tree felling were completed by competent and qualified aborists in February 2021 and that is prior to the March season set out in section 20 of the Wild Life Act, 1976," added Mr McGahern.
Cllr T.P. O'Reilly commended the local authority for the action taken in the interests of safety.
“There were a few disgruntled people but I think they were in a minority," he remarked.
“It is great to see that they are going to move the footpath back in two metres. I welcome that for safety reasons and the aesthetics of the area," added Cllr T.P. O'Reilly.
Cllr Shane P. O'Reilly agreed that the tree felling works needed to be done.
However he conceded: “The communication with the public was perhaps not what it should have been."
Referring to some of the remarks online. Cllr Shane P. O'Reilly said: “I certainly did not put my name forward on a ballot paper for that!"
He continued: "This was done for the safety of pedestrians and school children and some of the allegations made regarding vested interests were shocking and some of the abuse that was levelled towards the staff of Cavan County Council was abominable!”
Cllr Shane P. O'Reilly also defended council staff. "Anyone that is working in the local authority does so for the good of the county and for the good of the people of the area. Nothing is ever done on a whim. Nothing is ever done without a methodology and a reasoning behind it."
He said he understood the frustrations of people but insisted the work was necessary.
"What is done is done now – lessons I am sure have been learned. Just because people are behind a keyboard and a screen, they need to think before they type,” suggested Cllr Shane P. O'Reilly.
Cllr T.P. O'Reilly was in agreement. “There is nothing personal in any of this. It is for the betterment of the community, the safety of people. Safety to me is paramount,” he said.