Council faces a €70k bill for second vote in name row over Palmersto(w)n
RESIDENTS of a Dublin neighbourhood are to vote on whether to change the name of their area – for the second time in four years.
Locals in Palmerston/Palmerstown are to be asked to decide in a plebiscite on an agreed correct version of the place-name which could cost taxpayers up to €70,000.
South Dublin County Councillors have voted in favour of the public ballot, despite warnings from officials that it could end up costing at least €68,000 to hold it and to implement a change in signage. And the cost could rise even further, if motorway signage needs to be changed.
The motion, tabled by Cllr Guss O'Connell (Ind) was passed at the local authority's monthly meeting.
According to Cllr O'Connell, people in the area want to revert to using what he insists is the correct spelling – Palmerstown, rather than the current official version without the "w".
There was a plebiscite to decide the issue in 2009, when Palmerston narrowly won out. Roadsigns displaying both versions have remained.
Cllr O'Connell said he believes that some of those who voted last time may have mistakenly supported the wrong spelling. In his motion, he stated that residents of Palmerstown Village were deeply concerned that their village had been mis-named Palmerston.
The version minus the "w", he argued, refers to the townland rather than the village, while online search engines confuse matters by directing people using this version to Palmerston in Rathmines.
"We have a third and fourth generation of people living in Palmerstown village who feel like they have had their birthright removed from them," he said. "The townland is Palmerston, but nobody lives in the townland per se."
In a report, the council said it could not recommend passing the motion considering the fact that a plebiscite had already been held and the "financial demands which are being placed" on the local authority.
A spokesperson said a conservative estimate for the cost of the plebiscite itself was €13,000, rising to €68,000 to include road sign changes if the added "w" is approved.
However, the spokesperson clarified that this costing was for a portion of the signs, while whole motorway gantry signs would cost around €60,000 each to replace. Cllr O'Connell said he would question these figures and that the estimate for sign replacements was "scaremongering".
Cllr Eamon Tuffy (Lab) suggested that signs could be changed "gradually" over the years.
Supporting the motion, Cllr Breeda Bonner (Lab) said the name change should never have happened in the first place.
Opposing it, the mayor, Cllr Dermot Looney (Lab), said the councillors were discussing "the merits of the letter w" and spending more than €70,000 on it. He said he did not consider it "value for money".
The motion was put to a vote and passed by 10 to seven, with three abstentions.