The great western greenway debacle


ON THEIR BIKES Then Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring is pictured after the opening of the ultimate part of The Nice Western Greenway, linking Westport to Achill, by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny again in 2011. Deputy Ring has mentioned he’s ‘bitterly upset’ that cash to additional develop greenways within the county has needed to be handed again by Mayo County Council. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Councillors and the general public usually have been struggling to digest the information that Mayo County Council has to present a refund to central authorities

Evaluation
Edwin McGreal

The Nice Western Greenway from Westport to Achill has been an unimaginable success story. Since first opening in 2010, it has introduced 1000’s upon 1000’s of vacationers to the Westport, Newport, Mulranny and Achill areas.
Construct largely alongside the route of the outdated Westport to Achill railway, which closed within the Nineteen Thirties, the 42km Greenway has been successful for its off highway security and gorgeous views of a number of the best stretches of Mayo’s coast.
It was a undertaking piloted by Mayo County Council who secured nice buy-in from landowners alongside the route who freely allowed entry to their lands for the greenway.
It was the primary of its sort in Eire and had native authorities come from throughout to discover and purr at.
In recent times, there have been plans to develop it.
The plans embody a greenway from Westport to Louisburgh, and out to Roonagh Pier, on the southern facet of Clew Bay.
On the northern facet, the Greenway has crossed over into Achill with plans to convey it to Bunacurry within the coronary heart of the island and, ultimately, south from Achill Sound to Cloughmore.
A Greenway working from Clougmore all the best way to Westport and out to Roonagh Pier is essential as a result of it creates a full Clew Bay loop, by getting a ferry from Cloughmore onto Clare Island, biking round its majestic hills and onwards to Roonagh.
It was trialled this summer time, clearly with lots of on highway biking however anybody who took the ferry to Clare Island and cycled round there couldn’t however be impressed by its potential.
However now the undertaking has hit a serious snag.
As detailed in our lead story, varied components of the undertaking are actually in jeopardy as a result of Mayo County Council need to return funding to the Division of Rural and Neighborhood Growth.
The explanation? The council drew down cash primarily based on sure initiatives on this loop being accomplished once they weren’t. Certainly some weren’t even began.
Over €1 million has been handed again and it appears the council have been lucky to not lose €1 million extra.
When he was Minister for Rural and Neighborhood Growth, Westport-based TD Michael Ring allotted a lot of this funding.
He’s bitterly upset with the event.
“We’re all our lives complaining about not getting cash from Dublin and right here we’re after we get it and we’ve to present it again to them,” he instructed The Mayo Information.
“I’m bitterly upset this cash was not spent. I count on the brand new county supervisor to have negotiations with me, with the Division and with TII if wanted to get this executed.
“I need the initiatives to go forward and they’ll go forward.
“I’m so upset. I offered a lot after I was a minister for these initiatives.
“These usually are not native schemes for the areas in query alone … they’re county schemes which is able to convey extra individuals into Mayo and increase our tourism product. They are going to be nice schemes for Achill and Louisburgh however for the county and nation too. The plan is to attach into Connemara, in by way of Clifden. They’re strategically positioned initiatives,” he mentioned.

Inquiries to reply
Westport Superb Gael councillor Peter Flynn is accustomed to the route in query too. An avid bicycle owner, he went on the experimental Clew Bay route a number of occasions throughout the summer time.  
“It was an awesome partnership arrange this 12 months between Fáilte Eire, Mayo County Council, the bike rent firms and the ferry operators for the Clew Bay Bike Path.
“It was an enormous success and other people might see how it will work however the greenways need to be completed the entire manner round to make it protected and accessible.
“It’s a distinctive product. Hopping on two ferries in your cycle, taking in essentially the most beautiful surroundings round Clew Bay, Clare Island and Achill,” he mentioned.
He, collectively together with his council colleagues, have requested repeatedly for updates on the Westport to Louisburgh Greenway at native council conferences.
He’s aghast at this information.
“It’s surprising. The one factor that actually annoys me is the false declare. It’s one factor to overlook a deadline as a result of the work has not been completed however to say it was completed when it wasn’t and, in some instances wasn’t even began, is staggering.
“It’s a actual credibility subject now for Mayo County Council. Any declare they put in now will get twice the scrutiny some other county will get. Any 50/50 name between a Mayo undertaking and one in Galway, Sligo or Roscommon won’t go our manner.
“We actually do have to know the way this might have occurred.
“The bridge in Achill, so far as I do know, has not even went to tender and we’ve drawn down €200,000 for a bridge that doesn’t exist.
“You drawn down primarily based in your spend. It’s a must to present invoices, timesheets and so forth. This implies paperwork would have been falsified.
“We authorized an overdraft of €25 million as a result of the truth is it’s a must to pay out for the price of initiatives when accomplished earlier than you possibly can drawn down the cash. You spend the cash and lodge the declare.
“So there needs to be a paper path, there needs to be paperwork saying who was engaged on this undertaking and if these initiatives weren’t completed, which we all know they weren’t, then what initiatives have been individuals engaged on as an alternative. The place was the cash being spent as an alternative?
“I can not perceive this. In the event you needed to choose essentially the most seen Greenway within the nation, Murrisk to Lecanvey could be it. It’s virtually on the primary highway. It isn’t just like the Bangor Path the place it’s a must to go on the lookout for it. I can not perceive the stupidity of making an attempt to deceive the division.
“If a non-public firm or a sporting organisation did this, there could be felony expenses. That’s how severe it’s,” he mentioned.


 



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