Greenway funding announced numerous times - say councillors

BY COLM GANNON

Cllr Paul McNamara

Cllr Paul McNamara

Councillors in the Westport-Belmullet Municipal District on Monday claimed that the recent announcement of funding for extensions to the Great Western Greenway from Achill Sound to Bunnacurry, as well as from Westport to Murrisk - was funding that was announced already in different guises.

The issue was raised at a special meeting of the district that had been called to change the standing orders of the district to allow participation by councillors in meetings online in the future; but once that had been agreed, Independent Cllr Christy Hyland, queried when the district would be having a workshop meeting on the progress of greenways.

Cllr Hyland said that a workshop was needed to get things moving and with money being announced on Monday for the extension of the greenway, it should be done as soon as possible.

Responding to Cllr Hyland, Fianna Fáil Achill based Cllr Paul McNamara said: "Since Cllr Hyland has brought it up, I don't want to burst his bubble, but I am a bit bewildered on some of the announcements on this greenway money, in that this money has been announced three or four times.

"If the amount of money that has been announced over the last three years came to us in Achill, we would have a greenway from Keem Bay to the Statue of Liberty right across the Atlantic Ocean. How many announcements are we going to have before seeing anything done?

"In my opinion, it is absolutely ridiculous that we have announcements for greenway money and announced again today from Achill Sound to Bunnacurry, that was announced two years ago, and a proposed bridge at Spring Bay in Achill - that was announced two years ag; and I was told 12 months ago that bridge was gone to design and there is still no footbridge or any work done on any greenways.

"I don't know what kind of news to call it, but I do know if the amount of money that was announced comes to Westport and Louisburgh as well, definitely we'll have linked Achill Island to America, there'd be a boardwalk across the Atlantic.

"That greenway money has been announced and announced and announced and there isn't even a footpath we can walk on from Achill Sound to Bunnacurry; and now it was announced again this morning. Someone needs to come in quick and give us an explanation - are we sending the money back? Is it coming in the post and being redirected? It is definitely not coming into Achill, I can guarantee you that. There is no greenway money coming down for me to see it - there are bridges in design for 12 months and there is no sign of anyone being on site."

Fine Gael Cllr Peter Flynn echoed the sentiments of Cllr McNamara, saying: " I would concur with my colleagues. When I heard the announcement I got all excited and thought another local greenway was coming and then I checked, and low and behold, it was almost word for word what was released last November, except this time around, the amount has gone from €3.2 million to €5.1 million, but the actual number of kilometres has reduced by four; it has gone from 56km to 52km.

"So like it takes some explaining and I would welcome greenways more than anyone, but at some point in time, we need to actually put people on the ground and deliver on the ground and stop sending out daft press releases that are completely irrelevant and as Cllr Hyland said, let's sit down together and figure out responsibility for it. It is time we led the way on it and have a timetable for it to tell the public, when, in what year and month, we will have a greenway."

 

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