Come on Willie, fund the
Galway Independent -
Letters - 17th August 2005
Re: New national plan proposed for 2007.
It is, perhaps, just another brick in a wall of frequent
public pronouncements being made by this oh-so-tired
government, leading up to the next general election - that
has Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea of all people,
announcing the birth of the next new seven-year National
Development Plan - which is to come into force when the
existing one runs out at the end of next year.
I would hope that I am not alone in being sceptical about
the efficaciousness of national development plans
given the ineffective progress of the existing one -
particularly where the west of Ireland is concerned.
The Western Bishops recently commented on the NDP's euro2
billion "under spend" in the West over the past five years.
While Dublin and the east coast has by comparison benefited
excessively. Taking the example of spending on public
transport, the West has been practically ignored, with
Galway City Council recently providing just half a bus lane,
while bus and rail infrastructure, generally, is now in a
worse state than ever before.
While the growth in traffic on our roads has been one of
the more noticeable elements of our recent economic growth,
the lack of an extensive public transport system that works
and the run-down of rail-freight carrying capacity has
resulted in an enormous growth in car ownership and HGV
usage, with Galway city now more frequently clogging up
during peak traffic periods.
The failure of this government to have confidence in the
revitalisation of the Western Rail Corridor is just another
example of the Government's lack of vision. The western
university cities of Galway, Limerick and Cork, which are
all growth centres, need to be visibly connected by means of
investment in twin-track commuter rail services (most of the
existing track this side of Athlone is single line). The
Government needs to stop just pouring more money into roads,
which encourage sprawled out housing. The returns in
population growth, and in sustainable economic and social
growth, if commuter rail networks in the West were to be
supported, would be immeasurable.
Come on Willie, announce funding for the development of
the Western Rail Corridor, the rewards for you and Fianna
Fail's developer pals might be great indeed!