Healy-Eames demands councils scrap ‘destructive’ N6 ring road plans

Senator calls for consultants to be given ‘a new brief’ for ‘range of sustainable transport solutions’

Sen Fidelma Healy-Eames.

Sen Fidelma Healy-Eames.

The only solution to Galway’s transport problems is to scrap the “divisive” and “destructive” N6 Galway City Outer By-pass project, and demand that the consultants Arup be given “a new brief to come up with a range of sustainable transport solutions to solve our traffic problems”.

This is the view of Independent senator Fidelma Healy-Eames in her submission on the deeply unpopular and highly controversial N6 ring road, which she said represents “a divisive methodology” showing “disregard for people and communities”. She also warned that the project was pitting citizens and business against local government, creating resentments that will take years to overcome.

She went as far as to condemn the methodology behind the choice of the six routes, and was critical of consultants Arup for not having a public consultation process in advance of the publication of the six proposed routes. “The process, the methodology employed, and the six routes proposed by Arup have created a ‘collision’ between Galway city residents and businesses with Galway City Council and Galway County Council,” she said. “The fallout is immense and is not likely to abate.”

She is now calling on the Galway County Council, the lead agency in the project, to demand Arup be given “a new brief” in which a “fundamental guiding principle” will be “the development of our city, not only the building of a road”. “This involves bigger visioning than just trying to find a by-pass route,” she said, adding that “people and place” be given at least an equal rating to environmental considerations. “It is not right that the highest consideration has to be to only avoid limestone pavement or bog cotton,” she said.

Ring road ‘will not solve traffic mayhem’

Opposition continues to intensify against the N6 ring road which could see up to 130 family homes demolished and the Galway Races Festival halted for up to three years - at the cost of €60 million a year to the local economy.

In her submission, Sen Healy-Eames said she “cannot support” any of the routes as they would involve “the destruction of a heritage village such as Menlo” and Ballybrit racecourse; divide the campus of NUI Galway; impact on Bushypark National School; lead to the destruction of family homes; and also because of the lack of a specified ‘buffer zone’ distance between the proposed by-pass routes and the remaining homes in proximity to the route.

Sen Healy-Eames also argues in her submission that the proposed ring road’s design shows no evidence of having the capacity to “solve inner city traffic mayhem” or make “Galway a friendly city to move around in”. “It is estimated that more than 90 per cent of our commuter traffic involves going through the city,” she said. “Regrettably, there is no sustainable light rail or ‘hop on/hop off’ public transport system proposed for our city.”

Sen Healy-Eames’ former party colleague, Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh, believes the N6 ring road routes could be scrapped in favour of a variation of the original Galway City Outer Bypass progressed under Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest, which would circumvent EU concerns over bog cotton.

However FG TD Seán Kyne - the only politician so far to publicly support the N6 ring road - said use of an IROPI is only possible “when there are absolutely no alternatives”, but the six routes proposed for the N6 represents a variety of such choices. Sen Healy-Eames however does not accept the six proposed routes as “feasible alternatives” due to the “enormous scale of the destruction and impact” on the local population’s health, wellbeing, family, and community life. “Just because ARUP has come up with alternatives is not a good enough reason to say they are feasible alternatives,” she said. “That is their conclusion only.”

Similarly, in a statement this week, Independent county councillor James Charity said “the human cost involved” in the construction of the N6 ring road “does not make the proposed routes a credible alternative to any option”.

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