Two Westport-based councillors have called on Mayo County Council to get moving on plans for a Greenway connection to the town linking up a number of villages to the south.
Independent councillor Christy Hyland raised the issue at the April meeting of the local authority this week, saying: "I am very disappointed that there is no word, Covid or no Covid, on the €500,000 then Minister Ring gave 15 months ago to get the Greenway from Berthra to Lecanvey.
"Nothing done, if I was given option one, option two and option three, with maps regarding the greenway to use that money. I was told over a year ago it was staffing issues, then it was Covid, the people, the business people; the landowners, they are all asking, and I’ll finish with this chairman - there is a joke around in a local paper in the Louisburgh notes and the headline is ‘Did you see the Greenway’. I am shocked that over a year we haven’t been given a route map with options, nothing; this would create thousands of jobs."
Responding, Cathaoirleach Cllr Richard Finn said that Mayo County Council will not, like all government agencies, do everything on the one day, adding: "We have a situation going on (Covid ), we can see it ourselves in relation to the roads and repairs, we have to try and to accept a little bit more flexibility in the times that is in it, I do believe the greenway will be done as soon as the council get around to it."
Cllr Hyland's fellow Westport-based councillor, Cllr Brendan Mulroy, backed up Cllr Hyland, saying: "I want to support Cllr Hyland. This is massive for this area. If we are to deal with the number of tourists that we expect - the Westport to Louisburgh Greenway needs to be done. We are running into a serious problem here and it is great that we will get loads of people, but we need something for them to do."
Responding to the councillors' concerns, John Magee, director of services for the local authority, told the meeting: "As councillors know, it hasn’t been possible to do any work physically on the ground since January of this year. Today is a new day in the context of the restrictions, and this is a piece of work we deem to be critical; and obviously, there is a need to balance what we are doing on the ground with public health and we acknowledge there is a need to progress this project.
"There was a commitment to put additional resources into the tourism section in the context of adding to our engineers. I am happy to report that two new engineers have started since last week with Mayo County Council in the tourism section and we will from this week to start making significant progress on the Westport to Louisburgh Greenway, and I will be happy to have someone attend the next MD meeting to give a full update for the plans for the coming months."