Thursday, October 22, 2015

Crunch time for the Dublin Galway Greenway?


According to reports in recent days in the Connacht Tribune, the Dublin Galway greenway project may be either terminally dead or seriously wounded. Apparently, a report into the recent consultation with landowners has been handed to the Minister. The report appears to say that 63% of galway farmers are opposed to the project in it's current plan.

This is a major set back for the project and hopefully this is not the end of the ambitious plan. It comes at particularly time when optimism is high with the opening of the Mullingar to Athlone greenway. It is claimed that rural communities could benefit enormously from tourism traffic that otherwise bypasses these areas. Some communities are even seeing greenways as one way for rural communities to fight back against a backdrop of rural decline.

While some politicians such as Denis Naughten are trying to keep the dialogue open with the Minister on alternative route options, it is hard to see how the project can proceed under such uncertainties. There are dozens of other councils and organisations that are seeking funding from the Minister's department for greenway routes. And many of these funding requests have significant local consent. It would be no surprise if the Minister decides to scrap the Galway section of the Dublin Galway greenway and divert the funding elsewhere on other routes  to get to the west coast of Ireland (such as the Longford to Westport greenway or Sligo to Galway Greenway).

We hope that imagination, compromise and diplomacy could be introduced now into this debate. The current plan sounds like a classic example of a naive approach and the goodwill required from the farming sector is damaged.  The right leader here could make a difference - someone respected by the farmers as one of their own but also promoting the greenway. Anyone out there? Cycling Enda?

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