Both of Ballina’s elected Dáil deputies were involved in a war of words this week at the monthly meeting of the Ballina Electoral Area committee. Fianna Fáil Dep Dara Calleary TD and Fine Gael Dep Michelle Mulherin TD, had been invited by the councillors to attend the meeting to discuss the N26 upgrade scheme which has been shelved following a ruling by An Bord Pleanála last year.
Dep Calleary told the meeting he had been holding his thunder on charges laid down by Dep Mulherin previously that it was a political decision to shelve the N26 by the previous Government. He told the meeting: “Charges have been made, which have gone on for too long. I want this road to go ahead. I would call on the deputy to provide evidence that there was political interference in the decision or apologise and withdraw her charges.”
Dep Mulherin countered Dep Calleary’s question saying that it was only just really a reality check. She went on to say that the original Programme for Government for the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition had the N26 listed as a priority, but when it was renegotiated in 2009 there was no mention of the N26 at all. She went on to say that “it had fallen off the table in 2009” and that decision gave justification to An Bord Pleanála to turn down the planning application for it”. Both of the deputies were urged by a number of the councillors present to put aside party point scoring and work together to get the project back on track.