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Transport plan: Sligo 'will be left behind'

Sligo Champion - Wednesday 17th May 2006


The Government's 'Transport 21' plan was hugely aspirational, a meeting of Sligo Borough Council was told.

A motion from Sinn Fein councillors, Chris and Sean MacManus claimed the Government strategy would leave the West and North West "further behind."

Clr. Chris MacManus told the meeting that he had placed a motion on the issue arising from his concerns at remarks made by Transport Minister Martin Cullen that the thirty four billion Euro announced for the 'Transport 21' plan would be spread "fairly evenly" between the greater Dublin area and the regions.

"Along with not only my Sinn Fein party colleagues but everybody with an interest of the well being of this region and particularly Sligo, we were disappointed upon closer scrutiny of the plan," he said.

"It would seem that further draining of taxpayers money from the northwest has been compounded by a ten year Transport Plan that reinforces regional disparity between projects.

"There is now a real danger of a new two-tier Ireland developing with the West and Northwest being discriminated against in terms of infrastructural cost, timing and completion dates.

"For some time Sinn Fein has warned that the government would proceed with the development of the Western Rail Corridor in stages only, long fingering Sligo indefinitely. This is a cynical ploy to divide the many vocal lobby groups who have been campaigning on this issue.

"Instead of running services between Sligo, Galway and Limerick and on to Cork within five years the government have instead promised to commence work in 2006 on the Claremorris to Ennis section only. The Sligo section meanwhile is to be treated as a reservation at least as far as 2014, and that's only if the work is completed on schedule. This is indeed a far cry from the vision of people all along this vital rail link.

"Also, much hype has surrounded the announcement of the proposed Atlantic Road Corridor from Letterkenny through Sligo and ultimately onto Waterford. While this would be a very welcome development on closer examination of the details the results are profoundly disappointing.

"The corridor is not going to be built to motorway status. In fact much of it will not even be a dual carriageway.

"Most glaring of all is the apparent complete lack of reference to the N16.

'Further, the lack of provision of an east-west link from Sligo to Dundalk, as identified as a priority by the Border Regional Authority, is again a severe blow to the north-west region.

"Many members of the public are finding it very difficult not to view these announcements as a pre-election stunt coming as they do before the completion of the current National Development Plan and pre-empting the new NDP due to be published next year.

"The interesting detail about all these projects is that none of them are due for completion before the next general election in 2007. If so, then it has focused primarily on the greater Dublin region leading one to conclude that this current government is taking the electorate of the Northwest for granted," he added.

Clr. Sean MacManus said the plan was hugely aspirational and was a rehash of previous ministerial announcements.

"It has also appeared to have disappeared into the same black hole as PPARS and electronic voting," he said.

The idea of major route from Letterkenny to Waterford was good but at best all that would be done would be a single carriageway road or a two plus one road, he said.

Clr. MacManus said it had been claimed by Deputy Jimmy Devins that the Sligo to Belfast road would be upgraded as far as Blacklion but there wasn't a word about the N16 in the plan and it would be 2017 before it would be done.

"It's only right that we ask Minister Cullen to come down here and tell us what he is doing for the infrastructure of the North West," said Clr. MacManus.








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