The people of Ballywilliam outside Nenagh were held “prisoners in their own homes” last Sunday when a sulkie gathering took place along the old N7, according to Cllr Seamus Morris.
North Tipperary County Council had closed the road from Silvermines junction to Carrigatoher Post Office from 7am to 2pm on November 13 for what was described in council adverts that appeared in the local press as a “fundraising day for the Irish Road Trotting Club”.
However, according to Cllr Morris the council was “naive” in not looking properly at the application.
He said that he had phone calls on Sunday from residents complaining that they were being intimidated and could not leave their houses.
“What happened out there was awful. We are enaging as a council with agencies who are dealing with people on the margins and then this happens. What happened was completely different to what was supposed to happen,” he said. “This cost the people of Ballywilliam a restless Sunday.”
Cllr Morris said that he would be asking the council to explain how the road closure came about, a move that was backed by Cllr Jonathan Meaney.
“What happened out there was a bad situation. I will be asking that questions be asked to find out what happened,” said Cllr Meaney.
Both councillors said that the residents had been left with “an awful mess” that had to be cleared on Monday.
North Tipperary County Council senior engineer Michael F Hayes told the Tipperary Star that the road closure had gone through the normnal procedures, in that it had been advertised and the Gardai notified as a matter of course. People would have had a chance to object.
The council granted the closure because it was for a time when the road would not have been busy and they were assured it was for a bona fide charity event.
He said that he did not know the details of what had gone on, but that there were “more than rumours” about what had happened.
“With the benefit of hindsight I suppose you could say our ears should have pricked up,” he said.
There were reports that the event was monitored by the Garda Armed Response Unit, but Nenagh gardai would only confirm that they had monitored the event and that there had been no trouble during the day.
The Tipperary Star could not find any listing for the Irish Road Trotting Club to contact the organisers, and Cllr Meaney said that it could be possible that the name was made up.