A Charlestown county councillor has hit back at claims he is ‘anti-jobs’ because he will not support a greenway cycle route along a section of the currently disused Western Rail Corridor.
Individuals associated with the Sligo Mayo Greenway campaign, which wants to develop a cycle route from Claremorris to Collooney, in Sligo, had criticsed Councillor Gerry Murray after he appeared in a recent RTÉ Ear to the Ground programme.
They claimed he was standing in the way of an initiative which would promote employment and tourism in east Mayo. They also said Cllr Murray was wrong when he stated that EU funding may be coming down the line for the reopening of the railway.
In a statement this week, Cllr Murray said the Western Rail Corridor has cross party support and is no way being driven exclusively by Sinn Fein.
“The two main groups driving the campaign to reopen this critical piece of transport infrastructure are the Western Inter-County Railway Committee, whose members are the elected county councillors of the five local authorities in Connacht. The other group is the West- on-Track campaign, which is made up of representatives from the various villages and towns along the rail corridor,” he said.
In relation to EU funding, he said the Western Rail Corridor is eligible because it is a sustainable transport initiative.
“Only last year, the European Commission adopted a ‘Shift2Rail’ policy, a new public-private partnership to invest just under €1 billion in research and innovation to get more passengers and freight on to Europe's railways,” explained Cllr Murray.
Cllr Murray said the railway would link nearly all the major cities in the country and has the potential to become a significant driver of economic growth in the west of Ireland.
“I am not prepared to compromise this piece of critical infrastructure that has the potential to deliver far more jobs and tourists that any multiple of greenways ever could,” he stated.
Cllr Murray said elected members of Mayo County Council had already carefully considered the greenway proposal and it was ‘comprehensively rejected’.