MEP for Ireland North West - Midlands, Pat the Cope Gallagher, has slammed the Irish Government’s decision to “totally ignore the entire western region” from the Trans European Transport Network as “shameful”.
Mr Gallagher’s comments were made in the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week, a day after Galway County Council members heard a presentation from campaign group West-On-Track outlining the failure of the Department of Transport to include the Western Arc from any proposals for funding under the TEN-T, a multi-billion euro European network investment programme, or to even undertake a study to determine its viability.
Speaking in the European Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Gallagher said “It is regrettable that in Ireland the TEN-T Core Network has been confined only to the east and south of Ireland. Prior to submitting its plans, the Irish Government failed to consult and involve in their decision making respected bodies, such as the BMW Regional Assembly and the Western Development Commission. The Government extended the network to include Limerick, and even at this late stage, however embarassing it may be for the Government, I call for the TEN-T Core Network to be extended to the western region in order to develop rail, road, energy, and communications links. At the very least, a feasibility study into a multi-modal route along the Western Arc needs to be carried out with the involvement of the Western Development Commission and the BMW regional assembly.”
At Monday’s meeting of the Galway County Council a motion was passed calling for the Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to make a submission to the EU for TEN-T funding to support the Western Arc and that all relevant local authorities would also be informed and called upon for support.
Speaking on behalf of West-On-Track, Martin Cunniffe told councillors that the group has made an official complaint to Europe about the deliberate exclusion of the west from funding made available for economic and infrastructure developmenWest-On-Track took the issue up with the Department of Transport which “admitted it, and worse that no study has been done”. “The Department agreed that they could change it but it would be embarassing for them to do so,” said Mr Cunniffe, who called for a proper study to be carried out by the Western Development Commission as it is the “most representative group to do so”.