THE QUESTION of the “reunification of Tipperary”, a county administratively divided at local authority level has been moved forward with plans for the two county councils to meet to discuss the issue.
It follows a proposal from Cllr John Hogan, a Fianna Fáil member of North Tipperary County Council which is based in Nenagh, who claimed the “premier county” was “losing out on investment, infrastructure and tourism” because of its separate north and south administrative areas and parliamentary constituencies.
Tom Hayes, a Fine Gael TD for Tipperary South, which is based in Clonmel, said: “There is duplication in every county but that needs to be sorted out at national level.”
He had no objection to councillors meeting “to thrash out the feasibility” of the reunification of Tipperary but “would question the benefit to the south of the count”.
However, Mr Hogan was fired up by the idea.
“Under British rule the county was divided into the North and South Ridings because they couldn’t control the rebels”, but these divisions had survived independence and the county still had two separate county councils and two Dáil constituencies, each returning three TDs.
He said despite the county having three Fianna Fáil TDs and “one supposed supporter” (the Independent TD, Michael Lowry), which was “enough to bring down the government”, the county was “losing out on structural funds” and its hospitals and third-level education facilities were “being downgraded”.
He questioned the value of Mr Lowry’s alleged “deal” with the Government, which he claimed had “delivered nothing of substance for Tipperary”.
Mr Hogan, who represents the Templemore electoral area, said there was a need to create a “new focus” and to “restore pride in the county”, like that felt by people when they “sing Slievenamon at a relative’s funeral or wave the Tipperary flag in Croke Park”.
He deplored the lack of coherence in marketing tourism, “with the south of the county in the southeast region and the north in the midwest region”.
The people of Tipperary “need to think like the Kerry people think”, he said, pointing out that “if you go into a hotel in Killarney and it’s booked out, they’ll send you to another one”.
But, in Tipperary, he claimed, “people just look after their own little pocket” and that “a visitor to the Rock of Cashel would never be directed to visit Lough Derg”. Mr Hogan said in addition to creating “just one county council”, he would also like to see the county’s two Dáil constituencies merged.
He was dismayed that, during a rare recent meeting of the two county councils (to discuss an education matter), “many of the councillors didn’t even know one another”.
However, they have agreed to put the reunification proposal on the agenda for a meeting “in the next month or so”.
Divided Tipperary The Facts
* Tipperary has two three-seat Dáil constituencies: Tipperary North (FF 1; FG 1; Ind 1); Tipperary South (FF 2; FG 1); Co Tipperary has 113 councillors on nine councils.
* North Tipperary County Council is based in Nenagh. South Tipperary County Council is based in Clonmel. Clonmel has a borough council.
* Carrick-on-Suir, Cashel, Nenagh, Templemore, Tipperary and Thurles have town councils.