Up the Banner in a safe way, warns road safety watchdog

The National Roads Authority has been accused of being ‘party poopers’ for removing flags and banners from motorways erected by Banner supporters as they prepare to move en-masse to Dublin for tomorrow’s All-Ireland replay.

Senior member of Clare County Council, Patricia McCarthy (Ind) made the claim as NRA-employed contractors continued their work of removing banners and flags erected by Clare supporters at fly-overs along the county’s motorway system.

“The NRA must learn to respect and take account of local traditions and customs when counties are participating in major events like an All-Ireland hurling final.

“The NRA in this instance is eating into tradition by removing the signs wishing the team success. What do they want — Ireland to just become another bland country?

“The banners and flags provide great colour — and sometimes ingenuity by supporters — and it is a great pity that the NRA has taken this attitude.

“I know they are being removed for safety reasons, but if it can shown that the banners are firmly secured to the bridges, they should not be removed.”

However, Clare man and head of communications at the NRA, Sean O’Neill, said yesterday: “As part of road safety requirements you cannot allow any banner from any county on motorways or motorway overpasses because the potential of a banner blowing off and interfering with a car travelling 120km along a motorway could cause a serious life-threatening accident.”

Turning hurling pundit, Mr O’Neill said: “It would appear that County Clare supporters will become more familiar with this road safety concern in the coming years and we respect the desire to express support, but in a safer environment.”

Mr O’Neill said that there have been no recorded accidents involving supporters’ banners falling from fly-overs “because the contractors we employ are very efficient in taking them down”.

Mr O’Neill said that similar issues arose in Co Kilkenny on the M9 motorway, Co Tipperary with the M7/M8 and in Co Cork on the M8 motorway.

He said: “Up the Banner, but in a safe way.”

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