A Galway county councillor has described the decision taken by the Galway County Council to reject a proposal to conduct a feasibility study on the potential of a greenway between Athenry and Milltown as “soul destroying”.
Speaking to the Galway Advertiser, Tuam area councillor Peter Roche described the vote to defeat a study to examine the suitability of the Quiet Man Greenway as a “tough blow” and “bitterly disappointing”.
Cllr Roche said; “We had built up supreme momentum. There were around 3,000 people on a glorious Sunday afternoon in Tuam to walk the golden mile from the Cathedral to the Shopping Centre, via a section of the disused railway line. It was a huge plea [from the people] to ask the councillors to do the right thing.
“For more than 40 years the rail line has been disused and all we were asking for was a feasibility study to be conducted to see if a greenway was viable. We were not going to be going down with shovels and diggers to dig up the tracks if Cllr Donagh Killilea’s motion got the green light. The decision taken by 18 members of the council is just soul destroying.”
At County Hall on Monday, councillors had voted 18 in favour and 17 against a counter motion proposed by Cllr Jimmy McClearn ‘that Galway County Council seek funding from the Department of Transport for a feasibility study of all options for a greenway in the county to link a national greenway route to include Clifden, Tuam, Athenry, Oranmore, Loughrea, Gort, Ballinasloe, Portumna, Headford, Glenamaddy, Clarinbridge... in what would be a greenway master plan for the county’.
The carrying of this motion resulted in Cllr Donagh Killilea’s motion that ‘Galway County Council proceed to give an expression of interest that they wish to apply to the Greenway Strategy Fund for the carrying out of a feasibility study on the establishment of a greenway as a complimentary use of the disused railway alignment between Athenry, Ballyglunin, Tuam, Kilconly, and Milltown. The establishment of the greenway in no way compromises the future provision of a railway service ... and instructs the Galway County Council to give an expression of interest for the funding for other greenways including Connemara,’ becoming null and void.
Cllr Roche termed the counter motion as “extremely mischievous” and said the manner in which the voting process was carried out in the chamber on Monday left a lot to be desired.
“It [the counter motion] was a deliberate attempt to make sure the feasibility study never saw the light of day as some just do not want the rail line touched. I cannot understand why it failed. This greenway would have provided huge economic footfall and benefit for east Galway but it has been taken away by some who believe in a pipedream [the trains coming back].
“However there was great confusion yesterday in how the vote was conducted and I do believe some councillors may not have understood what they may have been voting for.”
Despite the setback Cllr Roche said that he and the supporters of the Quiet Man Greenway will continue their campaign.
“We will not give up. There is enough fire in the bellies of the thousands that showed up in Tuam on Sunday as well as the supporters of the greenway around the county. Monday’s vote was a setback [for the Quiet Man Greenway] and it may be dead but it is not buried and as long as it is not buried we will continue to fight on.”