Taoiseach's move on West
Sligo Champion - 9th March
by Michael Moran
THE commitment by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, that
financial provision has been made by the Government for the
re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor, has been warmly
welcomed in the region.
Mr. Ahern stated in the Dail that he was supportive of
the W.R.C. and that the finances for it are already with the
Department, adding that it would be part of a ten-year rail
"This is very significant for the entire West of Ireland.
The Taoiseach's announcement represents a clear expression
by the Government of its intent to deliver on the vision
outlined in the National Spatial Strategy," said a spokesman
for the West=On=Track group this morning.
"The Western Rail Corridor will join together all the
cities of the West and South from Sligo to Cork and
Waterford and genuinely create the conditions for balanced
regional development," he added.
The W.R.C. spokesperson was responding to remarks made by
Mr. Ahern during Taoiseach's question time, in response to
questions from Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte.
"I am supportive of the Western Rail Corridor, but where
it starts and finishes depends on the studies that are being
undertaken," the Taoiseach told the Dail. It would make
sense to use the existing rail line, but they would have to
await the completion of studies in order to ascertain the
viability of the various issues.
When he met representatives of the groups involved, they
told him that they knew thee were issues concerning the
viability of all the lines, Mr. Ahern stated.
He referred to the forthcoming report of the group
established to examine the viability of the W.R.C. and said
he was advised this was due in April.
"We have been supportive of this all the way through. The
report is to identify how it can best be achieved. There
will probably be arguments about the viability of where the
W.R.C. starts and ends.
"I have heard the arguments about whether Sligo is the
best location, but I am not an expert on such matters.
"As much as we can, it makes sense to support and engage
in what is viable, based on expert advice. The finances for
it are already with the Department and, from presentations
we have received, I know it will be part of the ten year
rail plan. Therefore, the provision has already been made
for it," the Taoiseach continued.
The W.R.C. spokesman, meanwhile, said that as well as
serving the transport and commercial needs of the people of
the entire region, the re-opening of the corridor would
represent an essential front loading of infrastructure
leading to the accelerated economic development of the
entire west and mid-west region.
"We compliment the Taoiseach and his Ministers for their
positive response to the well documented needs of this
region," he added.
The re-opening of the W.R.C. must be seen as a single
regional development project, delivering much-needed
infrastructure through the whole region.
"AS the Taoiseach noted in his Dail statement, we now
await the report of the expert working group under the
Chairmanship of Mr. Pat McCann, which, we are confident,
will provide a dynamic blueprint for the re-opening of this
valuable piece of Ireland's national infrastructure," the
W.R.C. spokesman concluded.
Elsewhere, Sean O'Neachtain, M.E.P. for the constituency
of North and West, also welcomed the comments of the
"I have lobbied strongly for the re-opening of the W.R.C.
because it is a vital economic component in support of the
future economic development of the West of Ireland.
"The project fully fits in with the commitment of the
Government to promote balanced regional development and to
implement the National Spatial Strategy," he said.