Northwest was blocked from European Transport Funding and removed from strategic Ten-T list — Chambers

Lisa Chambers, Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo has said the northwest was blocked from European Transport Funding by Fine Gael and removed from strategic Ten-T list by the then minister for transport, Leo Varadkar

Speaking on Thursday, Dep Chambers said: "Information released today shows that in 2011 the then transport minister Leo Varadkar purposely removed key transport projects in the North West from Ireland's application to the European Union's Ten-T funding programme and effectively wiped the northwest off the map. This had the effect of precluding key transport projects from receiving any EU funding before 2030 and possibly even longer."

"These projects, which had been included by the previous Fianna Fáil government, include the Western Rail Corridor which was to extend into Claremorris. Fianna Fáil had submitted the Western Atlantic road and rail cross-border route from Cork to Derry, which would have taken in Mayo, but this was later removed by Fine Fael and Leo Varadkar.

“Prior to this deeply damaging decision by the now Taoiseach, the Western Rail Corridor from Limerick to Galway had been opened and this was to be extended to Mayo in two phases. Ballina is the busiest freight location in the country and it beggars belief why this line was no prioritised given the hugely positive economic impact it would have had on our county.

"The maps initiated by Fianna Fáil when in government, which included the northwest and Mayo, were redrawn by Fine Gael and Leo Varadkar in October 2011 and prioritised road, rail, port, and airport infrastructure for Dublin, Cork, and Limerick, with a link to Belfast, while everything north of Limerick, the entire northwest region, was excluded.

“There really are few words to describe how terrible this callous decision was for Mayo and the northwest. Remarkably Jim Higgins, then MEP for the North West, warned his colleague Leo Varadkar that this could close off these projects to future EU funding for good, a warning the Taoiseach chose to ignore.

"I have previously accused this Government of being anti-rural Ireland and information such as this that came to light today certainly demonstrated that to the highest degree," Dep Chambers added. "I am calling now on the Taoiseach to explain himself and to explain to the people of Mayo and the northwest why, in one foul swoop, he culled so many major infrastructural projects for this region and choose to disadvantage us for decades to come.

"I am also calling on Minister Michael Ring, who has responsibility for rural affairs and sits at cabinet, to outline exactly what he proposes to do to fix this almighty blunder by Fine Gael in government and to outline how he proposes to ensure Mayo and the northwest is put back on the map for EU funding. Quite frankly what has transpired is nothing short of a disgrace. Given the potential negative impact of Brexit on trade and our economy, proper transport links across the island of Ireland is now more important than ever."

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