Taoiseach assures Grealish of Government funding if ring road gets go-ahead

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has assured Galway West TD Noel Grealish that if the city’s ring road gets the go-ahead from An Bord Pleanála, it will be funded by Government.

Responding to concerns expressed by the Independent TD about mixed messages coming from Government, Mr Varadkar insisted that the ring road was part of Government policy.

Speaking in the Dáil following the decision by the High Court to refer the plan back to An Bord Pleanála for fresh consideration in light of the current Climate Action Plan, Deputy Grealish pointed out that more than €35m has been spent trying to progress the road in the past 20 years.

“On Tuesday last, the Minister for Transport stated that the current plans for a ring road could not proceed and that the National Transport Authority, the local authority and the Department of Transport would have to look at a new transport strategy for Galway.

“The following day, in the Dáil, an Tánaiste, Deputy Micheál Martin, said that the N6 Galway ring road is essential for the growth and development of Galway city and the relief of unacceptable congestion.”

Deputy Grealish said that the two Galway councils and Transport Infrastructure Ireland had also confirmed their commitment to the project.

“However, there is now growing confusion and concern in Galway about the mixed messages from senior parties in government.

“Businesses and residents who are plagued with daily traffic congestion are worried about the lack of a commitment by the Minister for Transport,” he added, asking the Taoiseach to clearly outline his position and that of his Government.

Mr Varadkar said that it was ultimately going to be a matter for An Bord Pleanála to decide on, but he added:

“I will be very straight with the Deputy. While there are different views within Government on this matter, which happens sometimes and sometimes is a healthy thing, I am a supporter of the Galway ring road.

“It is in the national development plan and the national development plan is Government policy. Therefore, if it gets planning permission, it will be funded. It is in the national development plan, and that is part of the programme for Government.”

The Taoiseach added that he did not not accept the view that the €600m-plus road would necessarily be bad in terms of climate.

“It will take a long time to build it and by the time it has been built, I would hope the vast majority of our vehicles will be electric and 80% of our electricity will come from renewables.

“That will put a very different picture on it in terms of the emissions created and it will free up the city for cycling, buses and pedestrians,” he said.

 

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