Transport chiefs have been accused of treating women as second-class citizens by refusing to implement the renaming of one of Cork’s busiest roads after the “forgotten women” of the Irish revolution.
The charge was levelled by Cork city councillor Mary Shields following confirmation the N40 Southern Ring Road will not be renamed the N40 — Bóthar Cumann na mBan, on safety and policy grounds.
“This omission is another example of women being treated as second-class citizens,” the former lord mayor said.
“This council has shown further disrespect by making no effort to correct the media when they refer to the road by its former name.”
The 15km dual-carriageway extends from the Dunkettle interchange at the Jack Lynch Tunnel to the Curraheen interchange, close to Ballincollig, and links with the the main N22 road from Cork City to Killarney and Tralee. The N40 runs within the functional area of both Cork city and county councils.
Cllr Shields, who raised the renaming issue at this week’s city council meeting, said councillors voted unanimously during her term as lord mayor in early 2015 to rename the road to commemorate the vital role of women in the struggle for independence.
The renaming was also agreed by members of Cork County Council around the same time.
The Fianna Fáil councillor said she had hoped the process would have concluded in time to rededicate the road as part of the 1916 centenary commemorations.
She called this week on council officials to erect signs informing road users that the name of the road had been changed to the N40 — Bóthar Cumann na mBan.
But a report to councillors said the renaming of a national road which runs through two local authority areas requires the approval of both authorities, and should also have the agreement of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) — previously the National Roads Authority (NRA).
The report cited previous correspondence between the county council and the NRA, which said the proposed renaming would be “contrary to safety of use, strategic future proofing of signage, ease of wayfinding and national policy”.
Ms Shields described the excuse as “ridiculous” and said roads like the N40 have been renamed in honour of Cumann na mBan elsewhere — including the Waterford outer ring road, and the N6 bridge over the Shannon in Athlone.
“It is the prerogative of local authorities to name roads in their area. And if it has been done elsewhere, I don’t understand why it can’t be done in Cork. I plan to pursue this matter as far as I can,” she said.
A City Hall official said there is a relatively simple process for naming roads which did not previously have a name — citing examples like Mick Barry Road near the Black Ash park and ride, David McCarthy Road near the Apple computer plant and Noel Cantwell Way on the Mardyke — but indicated TII has responsibility for the management and oversight of the N40.
A riverside walk near the Mardyke was named Slí Cumann na mBan last year.
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